SAS Adds Support for Wireless Devices

INDIANAPOLIS (04/18/2000) - Data warehouse vendor SAS Institute Inc. last week added support for wireless-access devices, a capability that users said could be useful to mobile workers if security concerns are overcome.

The Cary, North Carolina-based software company beefed up its Intelligent Warehouse product to include support for the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and to enhance existing HTML support, officials announced at the vendor's annual user conference here.

The new protocol support will let users retrieve information from the data warehouse using wireless handheld devices. SAS Institute introduced wireless support in Europe last year and is now making it available in North America.

Jeff LeSuer, senior director of marketing planning and analysis at BMG Direct, a music subscription service in New York, said wireless support would give mobile workers better access to up-to-date information from the road.

"One of the benefits of a data warehousing service is getting the marketing and business information out to different parts of the organization," he said.

"Providing access through different devices is just going to make [it] that much easier."

Norm Hult, director of data warehousing at Knoxville, Tennessee-based BankFirst Corp., expressed concern about sending sensitive financial data to workers in the field using wireless devices. "We have a hard time seeing the practical use of wireless access," Hult said. "I'm not wild about transmitting information over the wires," let alone over wireless.

Mike Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Virginia, said security measures such as encryption have improved the security of wireless transmissions.

"It used to be that cellular conversations could be picked up easily over analog lines. But digital signals can be encrypted, so that if a message is intercepted, it won't make sense. With digital, you're just sending zeros and ones," Schiff said.

He added that as the WAP standard evolves, vendors will be able to add security features to address user concerns.

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