REVIEWER: Alwyn Santos, Oracle DBA for Comark, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Comark, Inc. (an Insight Enterprises, Inc. company) is a premier business-to-business provider of technology products and services, delivering total solutions throughout the technology life cycle. Profitable since its founding in 1977, the company achieved 2001 sales of $1.6 billion and ranks 144 on Forbes' Top 500 Private Companies list. Comark and its affiliates serve small and medium-sized business, enterprise, global, government, education and reseller markets. Comark offers a complete array of technology services and is a principal source of business computing products from leading manufacturers, including Cisco, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, 3Com and Toshiba. Comark is headquartered in Bloomingdale, Illinois, with regional offices in more than 15 cities across the United States.

PLATFORMS: UNIX using HP/UX 11.x 64bit.

PROBLEM SOLVED: One Thursday evening, I was attending a function at my son's school when I received a critical page that our production database was down. I quickly logged into our production server using PocketAdmin and discovered that our junior UNIX administrator accidentally scheduled an offline backup that night. Using PocketAdmin from Expand Beyond, I was able to remedy the situation by canceling the backup and restarting our production database. I was able to do this in minutes sitting in front of my son's presentation. If I didn't have PocketAdmin, this situation would have taken several hours to remedy because I would have needed to drive home to access my PC. This delay would have had tangible and intangible costs related to sales, customer service, etc.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product only has one function and that is to provide a secure connection to your server. Once established, you can issue whatever command you normally enter in a regular workstation command line. This is working very well for us. I'm looking forward to the company's upcoming VPN-supported solution.

STRENGTHS: The main strength of this product is the convenience it provides. Administrators like me who provide 24x7 support need tools like this to make our jobs easier. You can use it in a train, in a car (as long as you're not driving), in a restaurant or, in my case, a school. You don't need to log into your PC and dial out.

WEAKNESSES: The solution is not currently VPN-supported. However, I understand VPN support will be included in an upcoming release.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The main reason for selecting this product was security. PocketAdmin 1.8 uses Triple DES wrapped around SSH 1.5 for improved security end to end. All messages remain encrypted along the entire path from the source to the destination. This in itself was assurance for us that we can work with our servers without worrying about some hacker. There are other products out there that provide similar technologies, but we can't seem to make them work. PocketAdmin worked right out of the box.

DELIVERABLES: The product doesn't produce a report. It provides a means to make your PDA a terminal to your server. It's like working on a workstation at the office except you're using a smaller screen.

VENDOR SUPPORT: I believe I only called Expand Beyond once, and this was during the initial implementation. They were very responsive and assistance was provided right away.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was easy to understand. Even our administrative assistant could have installed the product for us. There was really nothing to it.

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