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Sonic Mobility tool aims to be link in the remote chain

Sonic Mobility has released a software tool it says will help administrators keep tabs on their networks remotely using handheld devices. One Windows admin who is evaluating the Sonicadmin tool says he likes the way it displays data meant for a 15-inch monitor on a tiny PDA screen.

Software firm Sonic Mobility Inc. last week made things more interesting for Windows administrators looking for a way to support their networks while away from their desks.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company released Sonicadmin, software that provides secure remote access to NetIQ Corp.'s AppManager Suite with BlackBerry or Pocket PC handheld devices.

Sonic Mobility has hit a nerve running through Byron Pearce, who's responsible for performance and capacity management for 500 Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 servers across the country for Nestle SA, a global Swiss food company with U.S. headquarters in Glendale, Calif.

"You've got to do more with less," Pearce said. In Glendale, with Southern California traffic, it can take an admin an hour to reach a system to fix an after-hours network problem. It's time wasted. "There's a huge link missing in the support chain, and it's the remote tools," he said.

Pearce is project manager for Nestle's NT/mobile wireless administration project, which has narrowed its search for remote admin software to applications by Sonic Mobility and Expand Beyond Corp. of Chicago.

He likes software by both companies because they present data meant for 15-inch screens effectively on a miniature PDA screen. Data is less congested and is organized so admins can tab through different screens, instead of scrolling endlessly, as required on other remote software interfaces, such as that of Microsoft's Terminal Server client, which runs on the Pocket PC, Pearce said. And admins can do everything they can when connected directly to the Internet, like reboot servers, look at log files and make configuration changes.

Forty to 50 Nestle admins across the country could begin using software from Sonic Mobility or Expand Beyond immediately. Pearce's wireless project team will decide on an application this spring and deploy it by summer's end.

One caveat of remote Windows and network administration is that Internet speed can vary and can drop as low as 19 Kbps, depending on the signal's strength, said Mark Ehr, a senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., in Boulder, Colo. Ehr is a former IT admin.

On the security front, Sonicadmin meets government encryption standards, he said.

Sonicadmin runs on Pocket PCs with Windows CE 3.0 and PPC 2002, and BlackBerry devices running BlackBerry Enterprise Server 3.5.


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