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Device Management Is Essential for Managing a Range of Wirelessly Connected Devices

Posted: November 30, 2009

By Yoram Berholtz
Senior Product Manager, Red Bend Software

The demand for constant connectivity is at an all-time high. Consumers want mobile phones that work wherever they are and whenever they need them–at home, in the office, on the road and across geographies. These demands create a big challenge for mobile operators, which want to manage all the devices in their network in a unified way, regardless of the type of device or software platform. As a result, operators globally are harnessing the Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA DM) standard to meet the demands of this increasingly diverse environment and ensure a consistent and satisfying mobile user experience.

Ovum recently reported that 36% of global handset shipments support OMA DM. Device management has become especially crucial to open platforms like Android, Brew Mobile Platform, Symbian and LiMo, as these platforms are feature-rich and geared to support rapidly evolving applications. Typical capabilities of DM include subscriber provisioning, connectivity configuration, firmware updating, diagnostics and monitoring, and software installation—all of which can be performed over the air (OTA). These capabilities result in lower support and maintenance costs for OEMs and operators while providing increased consumer satisfaction with their mobile device and service.

With DM, operators and handset manufacturers can activate new subscribers on the network, configure parameters including preferred roaming lists, retrieve data such as billing and inventory as well as conduct “lock and wipe”—remotely shutting down the mobile phone and deleting its memory in case it’s lost or stolen.

It’s not just mobile phones that require DM. Recent WiMAX deployments in the United States (Clearwire) and Japan (UQ Communications) adopted OMA DM as the main provisioning and management standard. These service providers are actively equipping their mobile devices, such as WiMAX modems and chipsets, with DM client software. By embracing the OMA DM standards, companies can ensure out-of-the-box interoperability in all the major WiMAX networks. As important as OMA DM is to the current phase of WiMAX deployment, it will be even more important as these networks evolve by being able to deliver more advanced applications and services to WiMAX consumers in the future. The prospects for WiMAX are merely up to the imaginations of the operators and their ability to offer attractive services, regardless of the device. The bandwidth capabilities anticipated in WiMAX will likely bring unprecedented access to video, movies and more, driving additional revenue streams to operators, manufacturers and ISVs as new services and applications become available.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) is another wireless segment that has adopted OMA DM for two reasons: 1) the nomadic nature of some M2M segments (e.g., automotive and telematics) force the module to engage with several networks and even roam to other countries; thus, the module must be able to work in a multi-server environment, and (2) the cost of adopting standards-based DM is much less expensive than a proprietary environment because the integration with devices and the certification with networks can be quicker. With the inherent functionality that exists in OMA DM, such as provisioning, managing security and the ability to work globally, operators can benefit from lower cost of ownership by using their already deployed OMA DM infrastructure and utilizing it for M2M.

Red Bend Software’s vDirect Mobile™ is the leading independent DM client. vDirect Mobile has been adopted by more than 30 manufacturers of wirelessly connected devices in the mobile, WiMAX and M2M markets, and is interoperable with any DM server supporting OMA DM standards. It also uniquely supports the WiMAX Management Object (MO) for managing mobile WiMAX devices according to specifications from the WiMAX Forum.

During the next five years, mobile devices will become more advanced and have many integrated features and connectivity standards. Device management is essential for enabling manufacturers and operators to manage such a diverse installed base in a unified way.