ORLANDO, Fla. — The deployment of wireless technology has created a whole new set of challenges for IT departments.

That’s one of the reasons why Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) announced at a CA World press briefing on Monday a partnership with Computer Associates International Inc. (CA), headquartered in Islandia, N.Y.

Mike Lazardis, chairman and co-CEO of RIM, said the partnership aims to address the IT infrastructure management challenges for the two companies’ mutual customers.

The agreement was announced on the same day a new modular design, architecture, pricing, and set of solutions were unveiled for CA’s Unicenter brand of e-business infrastructure management software.

According to Lazardis, the strategy is two-fold. IT administrators will be able to manage the deployment, upgrade and maintenance of Blackberry wireless handhelds and enterprise software through Unicenter.

Blackberry devices will also be able to function as remote management consoles. “What that means is that the same IT department that uses Unicenter will be able to manage Unicenter on the Blackberry handheld,” Lazaridis said. “So they’ll be able to go to where they’re really needed and still perform the functions when they’re servicing their customer base.”

CA president and CEO Sanjay Kumar said wireless is a major focus for CA through its Unicenter solution. “We’re really working very hard with our partners to tie the traditional wireline technology to wireless technology,” said Kumar. “And the folks at Research in Motion are spearheading many of the things that we’re doing.”

Wireless management from PDAs is available on Windows CE and CA is currently internally testing the RIM technology support, Kumar said. The partnership with RIM builds on a series of other wireless initiatives launched over the last few months, including deals with Nokia, Kyocera and Ericsson.

One of the biggest problems with managing infrastructure from PDAs is security, noted Allan Andersen, divisional vice-president of marketing for CA, in a separate interview. “You just click on it (the device) and it’s open.” There might not be as much danger with someone accessing personal information, he said, “but if it actually was in the corporate environment, lost or stolen devices can become an issue.” He added that stricter enforcement of security and password policies will be necessary.

Service providers (SPs) are going to play a significant part in promoting Unicenter, said Kumar, who estimated that about 70 per cent of CA’s sales to small and medium businesses will go through SPs. “We simply will not have the capability and the coverage to go off and work with all of those customers . . . Most small to medium enterprise customers have relationships directly with service providers.”

Anderson agreed. “A lot of people (are) actually building solutions using Unicenter and our other products as well. And that’s a very good vehicle to get to our larger customers but also mid-sized customers. We’re actually targeting a lot of those who deal with the smaller companies — small to mid-size in some cases. A lot of those will go through service providers. Sometimes it’s better for them to have somebody local, somebody you actually work with.”

SPs will be able to take advantage of the new business model from CA, which allows them to offer licenses on a shorter and affordable basis, Kumar said.

For example, products can be licensed on a yearly or month-to-month basis. Existing customers can continue buying its products the way they did before or they can buy under the new model.

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