Other than the Terminal Services Client for Pocket PC 2002, Microsoft's systems administration utility offerings for mobile devices are pretty thin. The Terminal Services Client is a great application, but systems administrators need more to fill their remote administration toolboxes. Three of the most feature-rich third-party systems administration utilities you can use with Pocket PC are StarRemote Wireless's StarAdmin, JRB Software's iAdmin Mobile, and Sonic Mobility's sonicadmin.

StarAdmin is a Web-based enterprise systems management application that acts like a proxy, relaying your remote commands to specific servers and workstations. You can install the StarAdmin server application on Windows XP Professional Edition, Windows 2000 Server, Win2K Advanced Server, or Win2K Professional. Because the application is Web-based, you must also install Microsoft IIS. By default, the Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) is installed locally with the StarAdmin Web application—but you can also use a Microsoft SQL Server server. Also, because StarAdmin is a Web application, you don't have to install any software on your Pocket PC. Figure A shows StarAdmin's Web interface. Finally, because the application is Web-based, you need to secure your server as much as possible. Using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) key for access from the Internet is a good idea.

The StarAdmin utility provides a complete solution for mobile systems administration. You can manage XP, Win2K, and Windows NT systems; NT and Active Directory (AD) user accounts; printers and print servers; networks; and SQL Server servers to a very granular level. One interface lets you accomplish everything from creating users to editing SQL Server database permissions. The application will also let you manage network equipment and any other devices you can use Telnet or Secure Shell (SSH) sessions to control. One of StarAdmin's most helpful features is that the application logs all the administrative activities you use its interface to perform. These logs are especially helpful when multiple systems administrators have administrative access.

iAdmin Mobile, like StarAdmin, requires a server installation. The server component is called the iAdmin Mobile Agent and will run on XP and Win2K. iAdmin Mobile differs from StarAdmin on Pocket PC. The iAdmin Mobile application has a client application called the iAdmin Mobile Client that you must install on your handheld device. This client application will run on Windows CE 3.0 as well as the Pocket PC 2002 OS. The client uses 128-bit encryption to securely attach to the server.

The iAdmin Mobile utility gives you much of the same NT and AD administration functionality as StarAdmin. In addition to the domain administration I already discussed, iAdmin Mobile provides utilities for managing IIS and DNS configurations. You can also use the client utility to view Microsoft Exchange Server statistics and configuration—although the application can't manage Exchange. Figure B shows iAdmin Mobile's interface on a Pocket PC 2002. The tabs on the bottom of the application window make the application easy to navigate.

The sonicadmin utility is similar to iAdmin Mobile. The sonicadmin utility is a client and server application. The sonicadmin server runs on Win2K and NT 4.0 but not on XP. The sonicadmin client runs on a Pocket PC 2002 and Windows CE 3.0. Figure C shows sonic-admin's client interface.

The sonicadmin utility's only limitation is that it doesn't support DNS administration on an NT 4.0 server. The sonicadmin utility's claim to fame is its security model. Client and server communications are secured through 256-bit encryption, use token authentication, and don't allow password storage on the client.

Many third-party remote systems management utilities exist—StarAdmin, iAdmin Mobile, and sonicadmin are just a few. For more information about these and similar applications, go to your favorite Pocket PC software Web site (e.g., Handango at http://www.handango.com).