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May 27, 2008

Odyssey Software Announces New Mobile Device Manager, Athena

By Michelle Robart, TMCnet Editor

Odyssey Software (News - Alert), a provider of mobile device management solutions, announced the release of its flagship product, Athena, an enterprise-class mobile device management solution for the Microsoft (News - Alert) Windows Mobile platform. The announcement was made on April 29, of this year at the Microsoft Management Summit 2008, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

By providing unique command and control over mobile devices, Athena will allow users to manage their devices with power, simplicity, and confidence.

Odyssey Software is among the industry leaders providing mobile device management software solutions that make it easy and cost effective to manage and support mobile enterprise deployments. IT professionals deploy Athena to harness the potential of the mobile workplace by keeping people productive and devices running efficiently.
President and CEO of Odyssey Software, Mark Gentile explains the objectives and future plans for Athena.
Q: What are the main objectives of the Athena Add-In? Why was it created?
MG: Odyssey Software chose to develop the Athena Add-In for Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager (News - Alert) (SCMDM) 2008 as a means to provide enterprise customers with a set of mobile device management features for Windows Mobile devices that extend and complement the native SCMDM 2008 device management features.
These added features are designed specifically to address these customers’ requirements to comprehensively manage Windows Mobile devices running mission-critical line-of-business applications. The core objectives of the Athena-Add-In for SCMDM 2008 are to extend the SCMDM platform to provide enterprise Help Desk personnel and IT support staff with powerful interactive support tools such as “remote control” for live over-the-air diagnostics, troubleshooting and repair; extended asset reporting including comprehensive device hardware, software, and health status; and extended device provisioning capabilities that provide automatic detection of required software updates and corrupt files with unattended delivery and silent installation of updates to remote devices – no mobile device user intervention required.
Additionally, Athena was designed as an extensible mobile device management agent for Windows Mobile, Windows Embedded and other Windows-based devices, which integrates seamlessly into the SCMDM infrastructure, enabling customers to leverage their investment in the SCMDM platform’s native scalability, security, reliability and fail-over capabilities. No proprietary Odyssey Software servers are required.
Q: How is the company's collaboration with Microsoft working to advance mobile worker productivity and increase ROI?
MG: The Odyssey Software Athena Add-In for SCMDM delivers features that directly impact mobile device user productivity by enabling enterprise Help Desk personnel to proactively address device issues through unattended, automatic distribution and installation of updates [including automatically checking for corrupt, missing or out-of-date files and executing the necessary actions to correct the issue, thereby making the device “self healing”]. The Add-In enables Help Desk personnel to interactively diagnose, troubleshoot and repair a remote device, just as though the device was in their hands, so that they can provide live, over-the-air assistance to mobile device users whenever and wherever they need it.
Odyssey Software has collaborated with Microsoft to ensure that the mobile device management features enabled by Athena are designed to complement the native SCMDM features, which are primarily focused around device security and policy management requirements. These Athena-enabled capabilities are created as an extension of the Microsoft offering, reducing the total cost of ownership and increasing the ROI of those mobile devices deployed.
Q: What makes the Athena Add-In different from other add-ins?
MG: Currently, beyond Odyssey Software’s Athena, there are no other device management products that have announced direct integration into the SCMDM 2008 infrastructure. All other device management products on the market require their own proprietary server and console infrastructure, and do no integrate into Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008. Athena’s seamless integration into these platforms enables customers to leverage the inherent scalability, security, failover and reliability of these Microsoft platforms. 
Q: What are some of the main benefits of the Athena Add-In?
MG: Athena provides substantial benefits to IT support staff and Held Desk personnel. IT support staff realize a decrease in cost through the ability to trouble-shoot and solve users’ problems remotely, as well as increased efficiency through fast, uniform distribution of applications and updates to their mobile workforce. Because no additional servers or proprietary server software required to run Athena, the Add-In also enables rapid, low-cost deployment utilizing existing consoles. Help Desk personnel experience costs savings through reduced training costs and call duration, and improved first-time call resolution of issues, as well as improved user adoption and morale with a better end-user experience. The Athena Add-In for SCMDM 2008 also allows the Help Desk to improve ROI through decreased downtime by reducing the amount of “device spares” and minimizing return of “good” devices for repair. Athena also ensures reduced security risk through security management and access control, while enabling efficient use of bandwidth because the solution does not interfere with business operations.
Q: Why is it becoming so important for companies to have mobile device managers?
MG: The fact of the matter is that the workforce is mobile. Recent research suggests that nearly a billion workers around the globe will be classed as mobile by 2011, including nearly 75 percent of the U.S. workforce, and yet a surprising number of companies do not have a formal mobile device management plan in place. With an increasing number of mobile workers using mission critical, line-of-business applications, enterprise IT support staff and Help Desk personnel must manage mobile device assets just as efficiently and effectively as they do the enterprise’s servers, desktops and notebooks. With a mobile device management strategy, enterprises can enhance the adoption of mobile technology, increase up-time and improve the end user experience by quickly troubleshooting and resolving issues, and automatically provisioning the device remotely as if the device where in the hands of their IT support staff.
Q: How exactly does the Add-In work? Is it complicated to learn/ install?
MG: Athena is architected as an extensible mobile device management agent for Windows Mobile, Windows Embedded and other Windows-based devices, which provides critical functions specifically designed for over-the-air remote interactive management of mobile devices. Through industry standard communications protocols (HTML and XML SOAP Web Services over HTTP/S), the on-device Athena agent is uniquely designed to seamlessly integrate with the native enterprise infrastructure of SCMDM 2008. The Athena Add-In includes console extensions for SCMDM that have the “look and feel” of the native SCMDM user interface, thereby minimizing the personnel training necessary to exercise the extended device management feature set that Athena brings to SCMDM. 
For more information on Odyssey Software and Athena, please visit: http://www.odysseysoftware.com/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx.
Michelle Robart is a Contributing Editor at TMCnet. To read more of her articles please visit her columnist page.

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