mFormation Technologies Inc has been selected over rivals InnoPath, Bitfone (now part of HP) and Insignia (whose assets were acquired by Smith Micro) to supply mobile device management (MDM) technology to Canadian operator Telus.
Zouheir Mansourati, VP of technology strategy for Telus, said it looked at the three other vendors in evaluating which product to go with for the MDM infrastructure at Telus Mobility, but Edison, New Jersey-based mFormation met its criteria.
We looked for financial viability, existing customers we could talk to, and the ability to meet out technical requirements, he explained. Mansourati added that Telus will be using mFormation initially for customer care, i.e. configuration, diagnostics and remote problem management and resolution on handsets, as well as time to market for the roll-out of new services with firmware over-the-air (FOTA) delivery.
He explained that Telus’s OSS infrastructure will work with the mFormation platform, sending an SS7 trigger to a client on a mobile handset, effectively to wake it up in order for it to talk back to the mFormation server in a TCP/IP session through the IP management cloud.
The mFormation server will need to operate across different RAN modes, including EV-DO Rev 0, which Telus says it has covering 60% of the Canadian population today, with plans to roll out Rev A by the end of this year. It will also be required to interact with a wide variety of clients on the handsets including, said Mansourati, Outlook clients.
We get calls from people with PDAs who need to configure their Outlook clients to get their mobile email, so mFormation can help us there, he explained. Telus Mobility also offers BlackBerry services, but as a rule of thumb, RIM provides its own MDM capabilities on its devices. Still, Mansourati said the mFormation technology could proffer some assistance on that front too, presumably because it would simplify the carrier’s MDM system if it could do it all from one platform, i.e. BlackBerry and WM5/6 devices.
Beyond that, he said Telus is looking at network management functions such as checking the battery status on the remote device and testing the signal strength, but also applications such as locating the device through cell site triangulation, which would be of use both from an emergency services perspective and, potential, for enterprise fleet management/field force automation functions.
The MDM space appears to have three frontrunners, namely mFormation, InnoPath and Bitfone/HP, with a couple of others such as Insignia/Smith Micro and Synchronica. Both mFormation and InnoPath claim market leadership, while Bitfone is somewhat in transition as a result of the HP acquisition, in that the acquirer is talking about a direct-to-enterprise play, leveraging its strength elsewhere in the enterprise market. To date, most MDM business has been with the carriers or handset manufacturers, with even enterprise MDM being a service offered by mobile carriers rather than a DIY technology. Bitfone is announcing something that may change the competitive environment on Tuesday next week in Shanghai, promising an enterprise MDM platform.