It's no secret that companies need to work smarter and leaner during tough economic times. Mobile devices can certainly help in this regard, allowing remote workers to access email and company resources to continue their productivity away from the office. However, increased mobile devices lead to increased headaches for IT departments trying to manage them.

As Mark Gentile, president and CEO of Odyssey Software, said, "Companies that have already committed to a mobile deployment need more than ever to control costs of supporting those mobile deployments. And the best way to do that is to have very strong mobile management tools." Additionally, any organization looking to adopt or expand mobile device use needs to address the management issue as a top priority.

Odyssey Software's Athena mobile device management solution is designed to help enterprises more effectively manage the Microsoft Windows Mobile device platform. As Gentile said, Athena uses "a service-oriented-architecture approach to device management versus a proprietary, closed architecture where our agent only talks to our server. We don't actually have a server."

Instead, Athena for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 is designed to integrate with the Microsoft management interface. "We built our device agent to embrace XML Web Services for the protocol for communicating in and out of the agent," Gentile said.

Odyssey also has a version of Athena for Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager (MDM) 2008. Microsoft's System Center management products provide good visibility into mobile devices, but Odyssey takes that further by developing out the areas where Microsoft's products lack. One key feature of Athena is the ability for Help desk personnel to initiate a live remote session on the mobile device, giving them a visual of the device screen for easy troubleshooting and providing assistance to users.

Athena management features are added through Feature Packs, letting you install just what you need. For instance, you can choose to use the Feature Packs for Interactive Support, Device Provisioning, and Asset Reporting. Odyssey recently announced new and enhanced Feature Packs. For instance, the Phone Feature Pack provides detailed statistics about email and text messaging along with information about incoming, outgoing, missed, and dropped calls.

Another new Feature Pack, Positioning, can provide detailed GPS information, including historical information, allowing the device location to be discovered. If you've ever "misplaced" an expensive mobile device, you no doubt will see the value of this add-on—and so will IT departments. The Interactive Support and Device Provisioning Feature Packs have also been enhanced.

Athena won the Best Systems Management and Operations Product category in last year's Best of TechEd awards. For more information about Athena, visit Odyssey Software's website.

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