Orange Business Services is to offer device management as a managed service delivered from the cloud, allowing enterprise customers to secure and support corporate mobile handsets without having to invest in on-premise infrastructure.
The service, announced today and available from June, is based on Sybase's tried and tested Afaria platform, and will allow customers to manage any device, in any location, and on any network, all from a single management portal, according to Orange.
"No other device management solution out there does all this," said Andrew Cross, mobility solutions director for Orange Business Services.
According to Cross, businesses are now looking to move from what he calls Mobility 1.0, where each department or division had a separate point solution, to Mobility 2.0, where mobility is simply a part of the whole IT infrastructure.
"You need a platform that can do that for you and, rather than companies buy their own software and a datacentre to operate it from, Orange is putting it in the cloud as a managed service. We give you all the fantastic features [of Afaria], but take away the pain of getting started with mobility," he said.
Provisionally named 'Managed Device Management', the service will be delivered on a flat-fee per-device per-month basis, with service level agreements and 24 x 7 technical support.
Customers do not need to sign up to Orange as their mobile network provider to use this new service, according to Cross.
"It's operator agnostic because Orange isn't in every country, just as Vodafone or other operators aren't in every country, but you need to offer customers a global solution," he said.
Customers can also choose centralised billing, or decentralised by geography or company division, Cross added.
Afaria supports Windows Mobile, Symbian, BlackBerry and Apple devices. However, Orange will not be supporting the iPhone as part of its managed service until the second half of this year, while support for Google's Android platform is also in the pipeline.
Afaria allows firms to deploy the management agent to users over-the-air, then establish security policies governing passwords and encryption of data in the device, plus track assets and update applications running on the handsets.
Orange's service will be offered in three 'packs'. Standard includes inventory and configuration management, plus backup support for data on handsets.
The Security pack adds device security tools, plus authentication control for access to Microsoft Exchange email servers, while Premium adds remote control and document distribution capabilities.
Cross said that customers involved in pilot rollouts have seen a return on their investment of about 375 per cent. "The figure is so high we were almost embarrassed to use it," he said.
Pricing for the managed mobile device management service will vary depending on the number of users, but will be in the region of £5 per user per month, based on an organisation with 7,000 users.
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