The need for device management (DM) grows ever more crucial as the nature of mobile devices dramatically changes. The complexity of mobile devices is increasing as applications become richer and more powerful. In addition, completely new applications and capabilities are being introduced in mobile devices. These new devices in mass-market environments are used by end-users with minimal technical interest or skills. To hide the complexity of the mobile devices from the end-users and to provide the convenience of seamless functionality of mobile applications, device management technology is necessary.
There are several interest groups in this area in addition to the SyncML® Initiative. Mostly, these groups are associated with standardization organizations preparing standards and specifications in wireless technology environments. Some notable examples are the WAP Forum® and 3GPP™ (3rd Generation Partnership Project). As there are many interest groups and as this technology area is very young in the mobile and wireless environment, even the terminology in the DM area is not yet stable. Other known and commonly used terms for device management are terminal management, user equipment management (UEM), and continuous provisioning.
The SyncML Initiative has a very active role in this area, as it has developed a device management specification (by publishing SyncML DM version 1.1). Two basic reasons justify DM activities within the SyncML Initiative. First, the SyncML Initiative is well suited as an organization to these activities, due to the right mix of member companies. It includes prominent device manufacturers and server software vendors. The knowledge for designing and agreeing on an end-to-end DM solution and its content exists in this forum. Second, DM has strong similarities to data synchronization. Due to this, major parts of the SyncML data synchronization specification and implementations can be reused for DM purposes.
Technically, DM and data synchronization have a relation that will be discussed further in this chapter. Nevertheless, the main focus of this chapter is on DM itself and SyncML DM technology. This chapter will answer the following questions:
What is the motivation for device management?
What can be achieved with device management technology?
How does the SyncML DM technology work?
What features are offered by SyncML DM?