Nov 08, 2012 (04:11 AM EST)
Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager Tackles BYOD

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When Dell purchased Wyse in April, the most tangible gains involved tools for virtualization and cloud-based management. The Texas-based company also alluded to BYOD ambitions, however, and has carried that theme through subsequent Wyse announcements. With Wednesday's unveiling of Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager (CCM), which had been previewed under the name Project Stratus, those aspirations have taken shape.

The new SaaS tool offers IT a single point of administration for managing mobile devices ranging from Android and iOS smartphones and tablets to Dell Wyse thin and zero clients. By virtue of being cloud based, CCM is not only free of any additional on-premise hardware or software requirements, but also capable of extending beyond the corporate firewall.

The tool supports a variety of over-the-air mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) functions. These include an end-user self-service portal intended to mitigate the day-to-day burden placed on IT administrators. When a hotly desired new smartphone or tablet hits the market, a BYOD environment could be forced into a temporary standstill as IT staffers attempt to provision the new devices. The fact that many users rely on multiple devices -- that is, not only a smartphone or tablet but often both -- has only compounded this stress. By streamlining the device onboarding process, CCM hopes to circumvent the issue.

[ Read Does BYOD Make Sense For SMBs? ]

IT can use CCM to assign user rights and permissions to both individuals and groups, and to whitelist or blacklist applications. After these definitions have been established, users can use the portal to register their devices, which will automatically inherit the appropriate policies, configurations, and apps. Employees also can use the portal to reset system passwords, and, in the event that a smartphone or tablet goes missing, lock or wipe corporate data.

CCM includes additional nods toward productivity and system security. Regarding the former, IT can activate virtual desktop features that harness PocketCloud to allow mobile devices to securely access and manage content stored on home or office computers. As for the latter, CCM can not only generate real-time reports on device registration and usage, but also trigger alerts in the event of non-compliance. Dell says this feature, which includes audit trails for identifying and addressing problems, will enable IT to focus on critical security and efficiency issues.

In an interview, Rami Karam, product marketing manager for CCM, said Dell wants to address the fact that consumerization diminishes IT's control while expanding the expectations administrators face. "IT has the same demands," he said. "Corporate data must be secure, they have to manage costs and the end-user experience -- but they have to do it in an environment where they don't own a lot of pieces in the puzzle." The goal, he said, is to create a service that can manage the whole spectrum of challenges: Corporate-liable smartphones, employee-owned tablets, thin clients, and so on. "Being agnostic to the device," he remarked, "is where we think the biggest opportunity is."

Karam said that CCM's cloud-based model enables thin-client devices to be used outside the office more easily. "The thin client opportunity is huge, and growing quickly," he said. "We think this is the future, and that it's going to overtake local computing on devices." He conceded, however, that "enterprises and consumers want choice." Both thin clients and traditional mobile devices with onboard storage "will always exist, but the proportions might change," he said.