Mobile management vendor Zenprise has announced a new remote control functionality to its flagship MobileManager platform. With support available for Blackberry devices, the new feature gives network administrators both visibility and control over their users' handhelds, making it easier to get end-users back up and running no matter where in the world they may be. However, Zenprise may be limited in their remote control support by the increasingly broad array of devices that mobile users employ.
The remote control option functions similarly to Remote Desktop on PCs. Administrators initiate the session via the Zenprise web interface. When the remote user authorizes the session, the mobile device's screen is mirrored for the administrator, letting them see exactly what the user is seeing. The admin can either walk the user through problem resolution or take over and fix the issue themselves. Using their workstation, admins can enter data as if typing on the device itself. The web interface also features clickable buttons that match the dedicated buttons on the Blackberry device to aid in navigating the various screens and menus of the remote device. The control function will also take advantage of whatever network connection is available to the device, making the remote connection via cellular or WiFi.
Remote desktop functionality on Windows clients has fundamentally changed the way enterprise support teams deal with users. While many of the common help desk issues, like new user creation or password resets, can be handled from the administrator's desk, there are plenty of situations where you "just have to be there." Remote desktop enables admins to be there without having run across the building or head to a remote site. There are parallels with the desktop support and the issues that IT faces when dealing with mobile devices. In fact, the situation is probably heightened by the fact that mobile devices, by their very nature, are much less likely to be in the office.
Ultimately, Zenprise's remote solution brings the same level of control to Blackberry devices that administrators enjoy with PCs, with the potential to change mobile support paradigms in a significant way. Unfortunately, while the Blackberry platform lends itself to this type of solution, there is a growing market of devices for which enterprise remote control may never be a possibility. Apple's lack of multitasking for third party applications and the lack of root access for apps on Google's Android platform could ultimately prevent Zenprise, or anyone else for that matter, from bringing this level of remote support to a rapidly growing share of the devices that are making their way into the hands of enterprise users.