Mobility comes in many flavors
- By Johanna Ambrosio
There are several ways to make corporate applications available to wireless users.
One is by working with the manufacturer of the device itself—Nokia, for
instance, which has a big push on in this area, or Research in Motion, the company
behind BlackBerry, which essentially pioneered the mobile market. Most of the
device makers have multiple software partners or provide their own packages to
help customers access corporate e-mail and other applications.
A second approach is to work with your corporate network provider. AT&T,
Sprint and other operators have deals with at least one, and often several,
e-mail software providers and provide different levels of functionality for
A third path is to work directly with the software providers, and there are
two ways to go here. The first group consists of four major players: Visto,
Good Technology, Smartner and Seven Networks. All four provide server software
that connects to corporate e-mail systems—typically Lotus Notes or Microsoft
Outlook—from a bevy of supported devices.
Typically, this group of vendors offers security features such as 128-bit encryption
built into their products, and most provide ever-advancing management features,
including the ability to remotely wipe out a device’s hard drive if it’s
lost or stolen. They also offer inventory management and the ability to upgrade
a device’s operating system or application software over the air or the
In addition to selling the server software, Seven offers a hosted service.
It’s also working with Sun to provide mobile e-mail to the next generation
of J2ME-based devices. For its part, Good Technology claims 4,000 corporate
customers for its e-mail software, while Smartner’s lineup includes several
of the U.K.’s leading retail and health-care concerns.
In January, Good Technology introduced a middleware product that allows customers
to deploy many corporate applications on mobile devices. Called GoodAccess and
based on Web services, it’s being tested by Visa, among others.
In that area, it’s got some catching up to do: iAnywhere (owned by Sybase),
Intellisync and Extended Systems are long-established mobile middleware vendors.
The advantage of going this route, users say, is that customers can choose to
use it for one application, such as e-mail, or extend it to a range of mobile
data, including accessing information from custom software that may have been
built years ago.
Ultimately, it’s only a matter of time before IBM/Lotus and Microsoft
build mobile e-mail support directly into their clients, some observers believe.
“They’re biding their time right now, but at some point it’s
a given they’ll be providing free mobile e-mail support,” says Tony
Rizzo, mobile sector head at The 451 Group. “When they do, that means
210 million enterprise seats will have this capability handed to them.”
Whether they will use it is anyone’s guess.
Back to feature: Wireless
Handhelds Connect to Enterprise Apps
Johanna Ambrosio is a freelance writer based in Marlborough, Mass., specializing in
technology and business. Contact her at [email protected].