Carriers tout wireless apps

May 3, 2002
2002 InfoWorld
By Ephraim Schwartz

ATTEMPTING TO GAIN favor with enterprises that are demanding wireless access to enterprise applications, Cingular Wireless, Sprint, and AvantGo are on the verge of rolling out new server-side technologies.

Designed to work inside the firewall, the products reflect IT executives' unwillingness to trust service providers to host technologies that offer wireless connectivity to corporate data.

Along with partners Neomar and Siebel Systems, Cingular will unveil at its Wave 2002 conference in Las Vegas on May 14 an extensible single-server solution that can deploy and manage multiple corporate applications to a range of wireless devices such as PDAs and cell phones.

Cingular's offering, now in trial phase, uses NES (Neomar Enterprise Server) software, which can send an HTTP request to any application server. "It's like moving all your applications to one superbox," said Butch Winters, CEO of San Francisco-based Neomar.

Neomar's technology, which forms the basis of Cingular's offering for corporate customers, will be deployed at Atlanta-based Cingular during the next 12 months.

Sprint is also chasing the enterprise with the Sprint PCS Business Connection Enterprise Edition, which will be officially launched later this year as a corporate version of PCS Personal Edition.

The Personal Edition offers users email and PIM (personal information manager) access to their desktops from a Sprint phone, whereas the Enterprise edition will give users direct access to Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes Domino servers on the network.

Hayward, Calif.-based AvantGo for its part will announce on May 13 an extension to its server infrastructure, AvantGo M-Business Server 5.0 Application Edition, which will use Web services to enable more feature-rich corporate applications to be deployed to wireless devices.

Version 5.0 of the AvantGo platform for wireless devices will support access to Web services protocols residing on top of corporate apps, and will enable application developers to use any of the existing Web services development environments.

Meanwhile, Sprint is hedging its bets on the delivery models that enterprises may adopt, announcing this week a Sprint-hosted service for access to Microsoft Exchange.

Analysts warn that enterprises are reluctant to use any solution that does not offer control on their side of the firewall. "That has been holding up a lot of mission-critical application development within the enterprise," said Tim Scannell, president of ShoreLine Research in Quincey, Mass.

"Because the Cingular solution can manage and handle things inside the firewall, it sounds solid. But any time you use wireless, there are still security concerns; not as many, but it doesn't go away," Scannell added.

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