January 2009 | Volume 12/ Number 1
Enterprise Mobility – Going Beyond Plain Old Cellular Service
By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis
As more and more corporate employees become mobile, their use of cellular phones, Blackberries, etc., skyrockets. Indeed, they tend to identify more with their mobile number and addresses than their desktop environment, since mobile devices are always at hand. Unfortunately, Plain Old Cellular Service (POCS) wasn’t really designed for some of the corporate applications users would love to run on them. Issues with POCS include hefty mobile airtime charges, poor in-building cellular coverage, no IT visibility and control over mobile usage, and lack of PBX (News - Alert) integration with mobile phones. Now, however, a slew of companies are transforming the way we perform our jobs in an increasingly mobile world.
For example, Agito Networks (News - Alert) offers an ingenious Mobility Router appliance (and accompanying Dialer application) called RoamAnywhere. The Agito RoamAnywhere Solution extends your enterprise PBX features to a impressive range of single- and dual- mode (WiFi (News - Alert)+Cellular) mobile handsets, providing a converged device for business and personal communications enabling you to place and receive calls from both your enterprise and personal cellular numbers. These extended PBX features include conferencing, transfer, call on hold / retrieve short number dialing, do not disturb and directory queries.
While doing this, RoamAnywhere automatically selects the whatever the best network is at the moment to optimize call quality, battery life and cost by leveraging fast and automatic sub-100 millisecond handover. It does this by quickly collecting and analyzing a set of handover metrics including proactive (location), policy-based (cost, time-of-day, battery) and reactive (signal strength, packet loss, quality). Agito RoamAnywhere enables enterprises to mobilize voice and data applications for their workforces and it supports all cellular carriers, enterprise PBXs and Wireless LANs.
RoamAnywhere delivers a single enterprise voice identity via its one number, one voicemail and one caller ID architecture, allowing you to be reached anywhere through a single number, even a four digit extension. Users have access to corporate directories, allowing for rapid access to peers from the mobile device without needing to access intermediate applications to find contact information.
Teaching Old Messaging New Tricks
One early and still popular set of mobile applications for the enterprise centers on messaging and email. As explained by Antoine Leboyer, CEO of GSX (News - Alert), “The growth of personal mobile device usage for the workplace is creating a significant challenge for the IT staff who manage enterprise infrastructures. PC-based email is a mission critical application for most business. This is the most common application employees want on mobile devices. This trend will drive the growth of heterogeneous IT environments that require administrators to manage and monitor multiple servers for Blackberry alongside Lotus Domino or Exchange, or maybe even both at the same time.”
Leboyer’s company, GSX, has become the leading provider of monitoring and management solutions for Lotus/Domino, Sametime, BES, URLs and now Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange Servers. Their flagship product, GSX Monitor, keeps an eye on more than 5 million email accounts worldwide, making it the most widely-used messaging monitoring tool. It can check server/network/cluster availability, replication, mail routing, performance, and can monitor LDAP and SMTP ports, as well as any URL. Alarm events can be keyed to location, time of day, severity of problem, etc. It also generates historical reports and graphs summarizing trends on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. GSX Monitor supports all Domino, Sametime, Exchange and BlackBerry (News - Alert) Enterprise Servers versions and platforms. Indeed, you can even access key status information directly from your mobile device (Blackberry, iPhone, smart phone). Interestingly, like some other GSX products, it doesn’t require any code to be installed on the messaging servers themselves, so there’s no code to crash your servers.
They also offer the GSX ID Manager that automates all procedures associated with the creation, modification and removal of mailboxes so that HR or departmental personnel can do common jobs (such as create, delete and rename user IDs) without involving a trained Domino Administrator.
Additionally, the GSX Server Guard enables unattended crash recovery and automated server maintenance procedures for Domino and Windows-based servers, and also needs no resident server code or agents: all GSX software is installed not on your messaging servers but on any PC/laptop or a separate monitoring server. As a result, you can install the solution in less than 30 minutes and start monitoring all of your servers from one interface: Notes, Exchange, BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Sametime or URLs.
Fast and Faster
Dexterra, founded in 2002, offers an expansive portfolio of mobile applications built on its open mobility development platform, Dexterra Concert™, that enables businesses worldwide to manage and optimize their mobile workforces, and to build composite applications that can meet just about any business mobility requirement. The platform consists of reusable application components and enables laptops, tablets, PDAs and phones to connect to multiple enterprise systems. It runs on various mobile operating systems such as Windows Mobile, RIM BlackBerry, and Symbian OS, and can integrate right out-of-the-box with backend solutions such as SAP, Oracle (News - Alert), Siebel, Maximo and Remedy. Dexterra has operations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific and a vast network of global partners such as Accenture, AT&T, IBM, Motorola, RIM, Telstra and Vodafone (News - Alert) that take our software into different channels and provide value-add, such as domain expertise.
Dexterra’s Rob O’Farrell, Executive VP of Engineering, says, “With the reorganization of our company and Michael Liebow of IBM (News - Alert) joining us as our new CEO, we’ve focused our organization on several core assets, one being the mobile platform, the other being an applications business relating to field services.”
“We recently announced two new editions of our Dexterra Concert mobile development platform: the Dexterra Concert Enterprise Edition and Carrier Edition. Both of these support the new fully-integrated Dexterra Field Service Suite. Because we’ve developed an advanced mobile platform, we’ve successfully deployed solutions into a variety of different vertical markets, spanning everything from telecom, life sciences, government, transportation and so forth. Although we’re not heavily involved in any specific vertical, the way we’ve designed our product set is such that it’s very ‘enabling’ and it’s easy to verticalize in the form of solutions by our partners.”
The new Dexterra Concert Enterprise Edition is basically a development environment that accelerates the creation of flexible, process-driven mobile applications. It can call upon our prebuilt standards-based technology, database and application adapters for mobile integration with virtually all back-office systems. There’s also support for multiple mobile devices. Internationalization and localization controls letting enterprises simultaneously operate mobile applications in multiple languages and its patented data management mechanism can streamline workflow and protect enterprise information. Furthermore, developers can gain access to the Dexterra DevNetwork partner ecosystem and its growing catalog of off-the-shelf and customizable mobile applications.
As for the Dexterra Concert Carrier Edition, delivers the same capabilities of the enterprise edition, but on an enormous scale, capable of supporting millions of mobile subscribers while integrating seamlessly with service providers’ billing systems. Armed with the Carrier Edition, wireless service providers can offer the Dexterra Concert Server and associated mobile applications in a hosted model to thousands of business customers, supporting millions of mobile workers. Wireless service providers can also enable easy access to customers’ business data without having to store it, thus simplifying the process of packaging mobile applications as a service. Essentially, then, the Carrier Edition enables mobile applications to be packaged and sold as billable services. There’s also multi-tenant support and an included customer care portal designed specifically for wireless carriers to manage both services and subscribers.
Handset vendors facing continuing pressure to deliver increasingly elaborate phones (with music, video, cameras, GPS capabilities, etc.) to market faster and faster, and to migrate from proprietary operating systems to open ones without compromising security. That’s because people have until recently tended to buy new mobile phones more rapidly than just about any other electronic item. Given that these systems can contain bank account and credit card information, email, and access to corporate CRM and other enterprise applications (indeed, smart phones are becoming a combination of a PC and a wallet rolled into one device), it becomes important to be able to port this information and the accompanying applications over to a new phone.
Now, VMware brings us the Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP), a thin layer of software that is embedded on a mobile phone to decouple the applications and data from the underlying hardware. It’s optimized to run efficiently on low power consuming and memory constrained mobile phones. The MVP currently supports a wide range of real-time and rich operating systems including Windows CE 5.0 and 6.0, Linux 2.6.x, Symbian (News - Alert) 9.x, eCos, µITRON NORTi and µC/OS-II.
VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform speeds up handset development time and end users will benefit by being able to run multiple personalities, such as one for personal use and one for work use on the same mobile device. A person’s phone “persona” —applications, pictures, videos, music, emails, bank info, credit card information, PIM and so forth, can be saved by VMware’s MVP as a set of files so that all the applications and data on the phone can be managed as a collection of files. People can then easily move their persona to a new mobile device for a – dare I say it – virtually painless upgrade. IT
The following companies were mentioned in this article:
Agito Networks – (www.agitonetworks.com)
Dexterra – (www.dexterra.com)
GSX – (www.gsx.net)
VMware – (www.vmware.com)
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