BYOD plan: Transportation firm goes down HTML5 road

Bulk-transport company Quality Distribution Inc. (QDI) is embracing HTML5 to further its goal of allowing employees, and eventually more of its trucker affiliates, to gain access to business applications through their own mobile devices, including Google Android phones and Apple iPhones.

"We're focused on providing solutions that can be accessed anywhere on any device," says Cliff Dixon, vice president of information technology at Tampa, Fla.-based QDI. QDI has begun HTML5-based streaming of business applications because this not only supports Windows desktop and laptops, but also the Google Chromebooks that the firm recently began providing to employees, including operational managers in truck depots coordinating driver loads. But more than that, it lets QDI staff get to some business applications over the Internet via their own tablets and smartphones.

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A password-controlled security model is appropriate for what the company wants because the streamed HTML5 data "is not stored locally" on devices, says Dixon (though he adds that could be changed if need be). By not allowing data to be stored locally, there's less concern about whether employee-owned mobile devices get lost, Dixon points out.

QDI got its HTML5 streaming going late last year by implementing the Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect server, which acts as a gateway that can take back-end data and convert it into HTLM5 Web traffic.

With implementation help from Cloud Sherpas, the HTML5 streaming is set up for what's basically terminal emulation, says James Liu, Ericom's director of technical services. Both Dixon and Liu say that all that's needed is for the user's device to support an HTML5-based browser, which up-to-date tablets and smartphones do.

QDI's business has it in constant communication with drivers of heavy-duty trucks, many carrying materials such as chemicals. For many of these driver contractors, QDI several years ago issued BlackBerries and supported a workflow application for drivers' use. Since drivers now have a plethora of other devices, such as laptops, printers, smartphones and iPads, QDI is focusing on what it might do to extend the HTML5 experience out to these affiliates.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email: emessmer@nww.com.

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