NEC Unveils Agent-Mediated Software

SINGAPORE (07/13/2000) - NEC Corp. has developed a software platform, based on its agent-mediated programming language called Mobidget, which uses a smart and distributed mobile agent to activate application services on the Internet, even after the originating PC has been turned off.

According to NEC, the Mobidget agent sees to it that programmed instructions dispatched from a user's PC are carried out. With its programming code, data, and execution context, the Mobidget can roam the network, gathering information from Web sites that the user has requested and transmit it back onto the user's PC when the PC is turned on again.

While this is hardly new technology, NEC's researcher said its Mobidget surpasses most Java-based mobile agent systems. According to Satoru Fujita, principal researcher of Computer and Communication Media Research Laboratories at NEC, those systems, unlike the Mobidget, offer varying degrees of mobility and distribution functionality.

"Most mobile agent systems do not support strong migration. What this means is that these Java-based mobile agents don't come with execution-context code.

However, a Mobidget agent does, and can suspend itself at migration and transmit the programming code, data, and execution context to the target computer, before resuming the next line in the migration process," Fujita explained, adding that this makes it easier for developers to write mobile agent programs.

"In Mobidget, we created a distributed agent, which can be subdivided into various components that can reside on several computers at the same time. This is useful as the they work independently on different tasks, or simultaneously on the same task," he said.

The company said it has performed experimental testing of Mobidget on Hewlett-Packard's e-speak open service platform, but Fujita declined to reveal the extent of both parties' collaboration because NEC is currently in discussion with HP.

Fujita hinted that Mobidget might be available to developers for free, but noted it is far too soon to make a conclusive statement on that as the software is only planned for market release in March 2001.

NEC said it is developing a second service that allows database service providers to create cache-agents. These cache-agents can be moved to servers that are closer to users and begin dynamic cache services. This service enables better response times on the user end and should reduce the load on the original database server significantly, NEC said.

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