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Iona fills Centrino hole

This week's unveiling of Intel's long-awaited Centrino mobile technology for notebook PCs is a key milestone in an imminent explosion of wireless Web technology, contends Eric Newcomer, CTO at Waltham, Mass.-based Iona Technologies (http://www.iona.com).

Intel (http://www.intel.com) officials have long promised that the new mobile processor with related chipsets and 802.11 wireless network capabilities will be a boon to mobile workers ranging from field inspectors and technicians to sales representatives.

These workers will be operating in what Newcomer labels an ''occasionally connected'' network environment where they will need access to home office applications and databases despite off-and-on connections to the enterprise network.

The ''occasionally connected'' requirement will present challenges to IT units charged with implementing the capability because most networks cannot yet support the requirement, Newcomer said.

For sales representatives in the field, the Internet connection is likely to be utilized only at specific times, Newcomer noted. The rep on the road will tend to hook in at various times of the day with a different IP address and a need to re-synchronize, problems co-workers in cubicles don't face.

''We think that most of the applications out there on the desktop or even at the enterprise level are not very well equipped to deal with the fact that mobile and wireless networks imply an occasionally connected scenario,'' he said. ''The applications built for network computers tend to be built with the assumption that there's a wire there that's plugged into that machine and that's how you have your connection with that application. What if that wire goes away?''

To address this problem, integration software maker Iona this week brought out Mobile Orchestrator, which Newcomer said can utilize Web services in a Service-Oriented Architecture designed with the mobile worker in mind. It will allow workers doing occasionally connected computing to have the benefit of enterprise business process applications, Newcomer said.

''We've implemented the business process engine as a distributed capability so it's a service in a Service-Oriented Architecture, like any other service,'' he explained. ''When you need to invoke a business process, you invoke it as a Web service, the way you'd invoke any other service. This allows us to offer a piece of business process automation for occasionally connected computing. This brings business process automation through Web services to the mobile desktop -- the laptop that is only occasionally connected but still needs to interact with enterprise applications to execute business transactions -- and [allows you to] work with any kind of productivity application regardless of whether or not the network connection is present.''

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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