IBM taking wireless higher into the websphere

Stepping up its strategy of linking enterprise-level data with a raft of non-PC devices, IBM this week will deliver a software suite designed to aid developers in spanning and tying platforms together when writing applications.

The Websphere Everyplace Suite will sit in front of a Web server, pulling up applications for desktop PCs. Using IBM's transcoding technology, the software translates data on the fly into a format that is readable by non-PC devices.

The new suite offers built-in support for Tivoli's Subscription Manager, making it possible for businesses to easily locate and manage hundreds of mobile devices, according to IBM representatives.

"What we are trying to do in this announcement is to greatly simplify that veneer layer that sits between the server and the devices," said Jon Prial, director of marketing at IBM's Pervasive Computing Division.

Prial said that by integrating the ability to install and deploy solutions into one package, IBM has masked the complexity involved in supporting this range of devices.

"Making support easier should allow larger organizations to focus more on what matters more, namely building and deploying e-business solutions," Prial said.

Although most IT shops have not rolled out major applications for mobile devices, those on the verge of doing so were heartened by IBM's latest moves.

"A year ago I wouldn't be thinking about how to involve handhelds as part of an important [application] rollout, but today it seems like it is going to be mandatory. We are glad to see IBM with at least a plan to address some of these issues," said Bill Joyce, a LAN administrator at a large insurance company in Michigan.

In this announcement and others expected later this year, IBM is positioning itself to promote key standards to bring a measure of technology order to the rapidly emerging wireless Web market.

For example, IBM will back the WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). The company is also pushing the SyncML synchronisation standard and its own transcoding technology, which IBM will soon license to other vendors.

IBM is also expected to announce next week that it will back several mobile OSes, including the Palm OS, Embedded Linux, Epoch, QNX, and Windows CE.

Although Windows CE has yet to emerge as a top-tier player in this market, IBM will continue to track its progress and acceptance among its core users, according to Prial.

Healthy market forecasts are fueling IBM's wireless efforts. Analysts estimate that more than 80 percent of new Web and enterprise applications for remote or mobile workers will be built from the ground up for non-PC devices.

The Websphere Everyplace Suite will run on IBM's AIX and Solaris OSes. Available now on a special bid basis, it will be widely available in the third quarter of this year.

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