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ADT at CTIA: IBM, Intel join in mobile security spec release

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.—Some noteworthy enterprise-focused announcements found their way into the usual cacophony of consumer-oriented gizmo news that characterizes the annual CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment conference, held in San Francisco last week. Among them:

- Intel, IBM, and Japanese telecom NTT DoCoMo published a jointly developed security specification called the Trusted Mobile Platform. The new spec aims to secure mobile e-commerce activities, such as electronic tickets and e-wallets, and to help protect devices from emerging software attacks.

'Through tamper-resistant modules and by enabling domain separation, a trusted platform will be able to protect data from potential viruses spreading from one application to the next,' the companies said in a statement.

Trusted Mobile Platform defines a set of hardware and software components that can be constructed to build devices offering different levels of security. It seeks to apply established security techniques to the hardware and software architectures to define what the companies call 'a trusted execution environment,' which protects mobile devices, such as PDAs and handsets, at boot time and during runtime.

Each company is contributing its own set of competencies to the spec: Intel brings the silicon component and experience architecting wireless devices; IBM has the business security savvy and pervasive computing know-how; NTT DoCoMo adds expertise in wireless networks.

'This collaboration directly enhances handheld architectures to provide the trusted capabilities vital for widespread adoption of mobile commerce and enterprise usage,' said Sean Maloney, EVP of Intel's Communications Group.

The spec is available at www.trusted-mobile.org.

- Intel also disclosed its plan to develop a solution based on the Common Information Model (CIM) that will allow IT managers to use their existing systems to monitor and maintain burgeoning swarms of untethered devices, such as smart phones and PDAs, which need to interact with the enterprise.

CIM is a specification and a schema that provides a common definition of management information for systems, networks, applications and services, and allows for vendor extensions. The schema provides the model descriptions, and the spec defines the details for integration with other management models.

Intel says that it has developed firmware for a prototype handheld communicator and CIM-based server software that can interact with the device before the operating system boots. IT managers could provision and monitor new mobile devices and applications using one management software application.

- iAnywhere Solutions , the mobile technology subsidiary of Sybase, unveiled two new middleware offerings at the show. iAnywhere's acquisition earlier this year of natural language interface technology company Dejima has borne fruit in the form of a product called Answers Anywhere. Based on the Dejima interface, the product allows users to search through data services using SMS text messaging, e-mail, or voice.

This kind of 'multimodal' functionality is fast becoming a critical feature in the mobile space, says Babak Hodjac, senior director of engineering at iAnywhere.

Three versions of the middleware are available. A carrier edition combines message queries with location-based services; an enterprise edition provides web, e-mail, voice, and text messaging interfaces for access to back-end systems, and there is also a developer edition. All editions support XML, SQL, RMI, APIs, and ODBC.

Also announced at the show, Sybase mFolio is a wizards-based application designed to allow a carrier's subscribers to customize content on their desktops for later viewing on their handsets.

'These are the first two products we've designed for the operator market,' says Omkar Omgar, senior director in iAnywhere's OEM business unit. 'Both are designed around improving the usability and functionality of mobile data services. CTIA was sort of our coming out party to the operator community.'

- Cingular Wireless completed its acquisition of AT&T Wireless during last week's show, creating the nation's largest wireless carrier (approximately 170 million subscribers. Industry pioneer Craig McCaw, who founded the company that became AT&T Wireless, gave two keynotes at last week's show. Intel announced a partnership with the company McCaw currently runs, Clearwire, to develop WiMAX wireless broadband technology.

WiMAX (also known as IEEE 802.116a) is an emerging wireless standard designed to connect Wi-Fi hotspots to the Internet and provide a wireless alternative for last-mile broadband connectivity to businesses and homes.

McCaw told attendees that he believes that WiMax will not compete with the cellular industry's broadband technologies, so-called 3G, or third-generation, wireless services. 'Cellular is an incredible industry, here and abroad,' he said. 'That's a great thing. We don't see it as necessary to be foolhardy and compete with the cell-phone industry. We aren't trying to eat someone's lunch, but make the pie bigger.'

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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