Because data synchronization is a fairly new program area, there isn 't much commonality regarding the programs we tested. Mobiliti 's Network/Unplugged attempts to duplicate the network environment, letting the end user decide what data will be synchronized. It works hard to make the process easy for the user and transparent for the software that uses the data being synchronized.
Software Pursuits Inc.'s SureSync is a manager-operated product, that offers many - often confusing - software synchronization options, but which lets the system manager synchronize data across a number of machines.
Then there's Synchrologic Inc.'s iMobile Suite, a complex, top-heavy, database-driven product.
Given the differences in products, we installed the products on our test LAN servers and our desktop machines for initial testing. Once we were comfortable with the products, we installed them on our laptops and used them as the vendors intended to synchronize data. We considered ease of use and operating system interoperability. We planned on looking at reliability, but all the packages worked as designed and reliability wasn 't an issue.
We used a nine-node test LAN that consisted of a NetWare 4.11 server, a Windows NT 4.0 server, a FreeBSD Unix server and a variety of Windows 95 and 98 PCs. We also used a laptop to test data synchronization over a dial-up link.
After we installed each product twice, we rolled back the machines we used to a clean state using PowerQuest 's DriveImage Pro and reinstalled the software, timing how long it took us to complete that process. The only product that was considerably difficult to install was Synchrologic 's iMobile Suite.