Critical Devices Offers Security, Management for Mobile Equipment

Network monitoring products determine if network assets are functioning and can provide hints about their performance, but they can’t tell you if your assets are in the right hands. One start-up company now offers a solution with the ability to do all of the above.

Critical Devices Inc. (www.criticaldevices.com) is offering a combination network monitoring and asset tracking service. In addition to Critical Devices’ services for the traditional performance monitoring of desktops, servers, and back end equipment, the company can track and monitor mobile, network-attached devices such as laptops, PDAs, and, soon, WAP-enabled phones.

"There are different variations of the functionality that Critical Devices offers, but there are no competitors that we’re aware of offering these services," says Kevin Gallagher, an analyst at Newport Group (www.newportgroup.com).

"We’re interested in creating technology that’s universally applicable," says Andrew Levi, founder and CTO of Critical Devices. He believes the challenge of Critical Devices, and its niche, is creating client software light enough to run on any platform, including PDAs and phones.

By nature, mobile devices are particularly vulnerable to theft. IT managers accustomed to dealing with technical issues, rather than the broader issue of crime, will welcome Critical Device’s ability to track hardware attached to the Internet.

Safeware, The Insurance Agency, Inc. (www.safeware.com) is offering incentives to corporate customers who sign on with Critical Devices. Safeware views Critical Devices' services as a valuable tool for tracking machines. Levi points out, however, that the company does more than tracking. Critical Devices is also in the monitoring business. "Regardless of asset tracking, we offer a lot of value," Levi says.

Subscribers can deploy the client software in a number of ways: e-mail attachment, standard installation, or a download from a Website. Once a subscriber machine is logged on to the Internet, the agent sends monitoring and tracking information to Critical Devices’ central control center in Dallas. If a laptop or a PDA is reported stolen, an manager can use the service to track its location.

The operations center was designed to anticipate the projected demand for a year. It employs government-grade security, and is capable of supporting 2 million devices without any performance issues. "It’s really well scaled right now," Levi say.

Critical Devices is paying particular attention to devices that are still on the fringe of enterprise computing. Levi believes PDAs will gain a greater role within the enterprise, and his company will be ready to manage them when it happens. "Historically, the Palm has been an item the employee has purchased. More frequently, PDAs are containing a corporation’s information assets," he says. Whether or not the company bought the device, it is still in the company’s interest to monitor and track them.

Critical Devices is pursuing subscribers through corporate reseller channels, offering their service when organizations obtain new equipment.