November 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 11
Enterprise Mobility – on the Move with Voice and Data
By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis
In the past, supporting mobile professionals consisted mostly of forwarding calls and texting. This was followed by projecting one major back office application (e.g. CRM) to the handset. Now, mobile worker productivity is skyrocketing; corporate IP PBX (News - Alert) features and various back office applications and data are extended to mobile devices, integrated with what is essentially mobile unified communications functionality linked to the office via WLAN, VoIP and cellular technologies.
In short, enterprise mobility has become an overall corporate strategy for maintaining competitive advantage, whether it involves connecting managers and employees in the field, or on the retail or warehouse floor. Even verticals such as healthcare benefit, as doctors can instantly review patient data from any location.
In the quest for projecting corporate applications and communications capabilities to the mobile user, developers must take into account legacy PBX equipment and existing cellular services used by company employees, and yet provide what is essentially a mobile unified communications system.
Take DiVitas Networks (News - Alert), which has devised an interesting mobile unified communications-like client that you download into your mobile phone. The DiVitas server can be placed within the enterprise or it can be hosted by a carrier. The server talks to various phone applications such as corporate instant messaging directories, and vertical-specific apps such as push-to-talk and presence (it leaves cellular service and mobile email to others). DiVitas leverages these and creates a second persona for you - a ‘work’ or ‘professional persona’, on your mobile phone. When the DiVitas client is activated, you have access to all the communication or messaging apps to which you need access to perform your tasks when you’re away from your desk. You can place and receive calls on your desk phone line. You can do IM, which travels through the corporate IM network/ system. You also have access to your company’s directory, in addition to your personal directory, which will coexist on your mobile phone. You can update your presence and access to your personal status message, which can broadcast what you’re up to at any given instant.
DiVitas Networks’ CEO and Founder, Vivek Khuller (News - Alert), says, “We’re flexible on both server and client sides. You can use a thirdparty client or ours for a specific app. For example, if your company uses an IM client different from DiVitas’, you can still access the IM application from our client but when you launch the client for IM specifically, it will launch that particular client instead of the DiVitas native client. Also, on the server side we can turn off our PBX functionality and instead talk to your legacy PBX. We can connect to any standard SIP-based deskphone, and you can give everyone a mobile phone and install our client, whereupon each will be come a fully-functioning, selfcontained system for voice, IM and all of the other apps.”
Meanwhile, over at Vaultus Mobile Technologies, they provide an endto- end wireless data, content, and application delivery platform used by companies to securely port or ‘mobilize’ common and homegrown applications as well as data to the various devices of mobile workers. Vaultus’ platform provides secure access to data from leading applications like Siebel, Saleforce.com, Microsoft (News - Alert) CRM, Remedy, Peregrine and Heat. It also offers pre-packaged Sales/CRM, Helpdesk and sales performance packages if you don’t have one to port. The intuitive mobile interface typically needs little or no end user training. Data is cached and kept instantly available to users all the time, regardless of network connectivity. Vaultus technology can be found in many verticals such as financial services, healthcare, public sector, transportation, manufacturing and retail, extending helpdesk, CRM, and custom apps as well as dashboards to mobile workers.
Keith Waryas, Director, Marketing and Business Development at Vaultus, says, “Our mobile applications platform extends business critical applications out to handheld devices. We do it in a way that’s unique in the sense that we put a rich application out on the mobile device and make sure that it’s constantly connected to the backend whenever a wireless connection is available, but if you’ve ever used a mobile phone you’re obviously familiar with the fact that wireless connections aren’t always available. So the rich application aspect of it comes into play because Vaultus has some patented compression technology and some ways that we manage and sort data locally on the device, which allows us to take essentially the entire backend data set and put it securely, locally on the device. If you’re in a basement or a bad signal area, and you have to answer a question about an account, you still have full access to all of your data. It blends online and offline capability in a way that drives superior usability for the customer and end user.”
“A few years ago, on the enterprise level, single applications were driving deployment,” says Waryas. “A company would say, ‘We want to mobilize our salesforce,’ or ‘We have an IT helpdesk team that constantly moves and we need to mobilize them and give them access to the helpdesk,’ and we would come in and deploy the platform on what we call an Application Connector, which ties the platform to a specific back-end application, mobilizing that workforce or that group. Now a significant shift has occurred in how the Fortune 1000 and 500 are starting to look at mobility. They’re finding that point solution needs pop up in multiple areas. As a result, it escalates to a slightly higher level, sometimes up to the CTO’s office, where now they’re in a position where they have to look at an overall enterprise mobile strategy as opposed to just a mobile solution for a specific department or division. They’re doing this because there have been many cases where companies have deployed one solution in one division, a different solution in a different division, and a third solution in a third division, and at the end of the day they discover they’ve been replicating costs around management, infrastructure and technology, when they could simply combine all of them and deliver functionality using our single platform at significant savings.”
“We are able to deploy our platform, which supports virtually any application in the back end, but you can expand and scale out both vertically and horizontally as you need to,” says Waryas. “In the case of one of our large customers, Merrill Lynch, their need started out with a single area – as I recall it was either a help desk or CRM – and they quickly spiraled into a number of different applications, including multiple CRMs. They’ve got different dashboard-like applications, and what I’d call process management applications. They were going to mobilize all of these apps individually. Thanks to Vaultus they’ve been able to add our connectors to a core infrastructure strategy and build it out both vertically and horizontally as they need to add more users and as they expand the breadth of mobility by supporting multiple applications in the back end.”
“A secondary area that’s become big for us is the OEM space,” says Waryas. “Companies such as Pivotal, Varicent and Cognos (News - Alert) are using the Vaultus platform as the foundation for their own branded mobile applications. In fact E*TRADE Securities recently partnered with Vaultus to build E*TRADE Mobile Pro, an exciting new mobile trading application that offers customers quick and easy wireless access to their E*TRADE accounts.”
A Piece of the Action
The public may associate the revolution in enterprise mobility with dynamic startup companies and rogue entrepreneurs, but in fact your existing PBX vendor is already hard at work to extend your legacy phone system’s capabilities beyond the corporate perimeter.
Take Siemens (News - Alert), for example, whose product lines have undergone considerable technical evolution over the past few years. For example, the latest release of Siemens’ HiPath 3000 brings open communications to users of converged platforms via the integration of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert)), which enables companies to take advantage of the next-gen carrier interfaces. The HiPath 3000 can keep employees connected, regardless of whether they are in the office, on the move or working from home. By enabling easy home and remote working via any broadband connection, the HiPath 3000 reduces both administration and reliance on mobile networks, which makes it easier for teams to collaborate and slashes communications costs too.
Scaleable from 30 to 500 users, the HiPath 3000 is also an appropriate platform for HiPath Wireless, Siemens’ enterprise-grade Wireless LAN solution. HiPath Wireless supports deployment of tightly-integrated open mobility solutions that also enhance business processes, speed communication and improve productivity.
Just as we were going to press, Siemens announced Siemens OpenScape Mobility, which will bring together, from one vendor for the first time, enterprise telephony, video, unified communications, wireless and fixed-mobile convergence in a single integrated Mobile UC solution. This solution addresses three major trends in today’s workplace: the all-wireless enterprise, fixed mobile convergence adoption and UC. To address these trends, OpenScape Mobility includes: The All-Wireless Enterprise with HiPath® Wireless (V5R3) – an easy-to-deploy 802.11n WLAN; HiPath MobileConnect (V2) - the award-winning fixed mobile convergence solution from Siemens; and the new OpenScape UC Application Mobile Client – an innovative UC application that now goes mobile with a new mobile client for RIM, Symbian (News - Alert) and Windows mobile devices.
Man in the Middle
MobileDataNow lets an organization provide one-click access to business applications and services from any mobile device. This surprisingly simple and easy-to-use solution is based on messaging.
Nick Bolton, CEO, says, “We produce middleware that links people with informational database systems, just by using messaging, such as email, SMS or even instant messaging. This is achieved by simply sending a message to retrieve, add or update important business information. Not only is this a very fast, easy and efficient way of accessing information, it’s a concept easily understood by any user of a mobile phone. It works with the messaging clients on all phones. There’s no software to install on the phone and you don’t have to develop any particular client. You can get our technology up and running in about an hour, instead of six weeks of development time, or what-not.”
“We can connect to any new or legacy relational database system that can be accessed by ODBC or JDBC, such as DB2, Oracle (News - Alert), MS SQL Server, Sybase, MySQL, and so forth. You can also connect to flat file single user databases, such as MS Access, Apache Derby, Berkeley DB, SQLite, etc., also using ODBC or JDBC. We can even connect to both simple and complex SOAP Web Services using a WSDL URL, dynamically invoking the Web Service without any coding.”
Good Things in Small Packages
For very small companies or SOHOs, “enterprise mobility” can sometimes just be a new and better cordless phone system, such as the new snom m3 DECT (News - Alert) phone, which is suitable for VoIP in the home office, SMB or even the enterprise. With an indoor range of 50 meters (164 feet) and an outdoor range of 100 meters (328 feet), you can add up to eight snom m3 handsets to your system – allowing for up to three parallel calls at time. It has a 128 x 128 pixel color display with backlight function and operates for 10 hours talk time or 100 hours standby. Additional features include three-way conference calls, call transferring, music while on hold, call forwarding, and speed dialing with an address book allowing up to 100 entries.
The snom m3 menu is designed to be easily configurable – it can even be configured remotely. The snom m3 even has terrific styling, the result of snom having hired the famous designer, Sebastian Stroschein of Stroschein Product Design, Berlin, who also designed the Bluetooth handsets installed in Maybach limousines, all mobile phone holders in Mercedes-Benz cars (including the iPhone (News - Alert) holder) and the handsets found in Porsches and BMWs.
Keeping Things Secure
With the proliferation of mobile users and their 3G phones, security concerns arise. Third generation phone systems must deliver desktop-like features to the mobile user, such as multimedia and pay-for-view content, and secure transactions. These all tend to gobble up most of the processing power of a 3G phone, which has considerably less memory and computing power than a typical desktop computer, and yet there must be sufficient computing power left over for delivering these features securely via strong cryptography.
As it happens, Certicom is a company that has tackled the crypto problem using so-called Elliptic Curves Cryptography (ECC), which is suitable for resource-constrained environments such as small cell phones, since it uses very small keys and fast algorithms. RIM/Blackberry and other mobile-related vendors are beginning to adopt ECC over the traditional encryption methods to secure their wireless connection.
Then there’s PGP (News - Alert) Corporation. Unlike point solutions that address a single threat or stitchedtogether product suites that could use some additional integration, the extensible PGP Encryption Platform delivers an integrated encryption framework that can handle a broad range of encryption applications. PGP encryption defends data on desktops, laptops, and beyond. The PGP encryption applications are centrally-managed. You deploy the platform once and then activate applications as needed.
John Dasher, Director of Product Management, says, “We re-launched PGP in 2002. We took a fresh look at how to provide encryption solutions. We recognized that enterprises hadn’t really deployed encryption solutions for a variety of understandable reasons. They were expensive, they were hard to deploy, hard to manage. There was a genuine fear that if they let encryption loose in their enterprise, then suddenly they might not be able to access their own data assets if an employee left or if something got damaged, etc.”
“We looked at the problem and evaluated all of the expertise we had accumulated over a decade,” says Dasher, “and we decided to turn the problem on its head: We simply said that maybe everybody has been looking at this problem from the wrong perspective. Perhaps the correct perspective isn’t from the double-clickable desktop application; rather, it should be an infrastructure perspective. One of the things that we observed back before we launched the company, and frankly, what we observe in our competitors today, is that there is a variety of different security solutions out there, whether you’re talking about a mobile security solution, an email security solution, encryption for laptops, and so forth. There are many products that address various niches. While there may be some good point products, the problem is that they are in fact point products. Each one of those products brings with it a unique segment of the infrastructure. Each product has to deal with key management, policy management, deployment, reporting, and other very important things. If you’re going to deploy multiple solutions with multiple-management systems, you’re left with some bad choices. You either have to embark on a very expensive and insecure path of enterprise application integration, or you must force your IT folks to manage silos, which is not only hard and expensive, but likely leads to inconsistent policies and keys across the silos.”
“We decided to take all of that common infrastructure and create a platform upon which we can seat applications,” says Dasher. “If you’re familiar with a hardware blade architecture, you can see that we followed a similar approach. Our ‘chassis’ is the PGP Universal Server, which provides a standard-based key and policy management, provisioning and other good stuff on the server side, and then we can plug in individual applications as the corporation needs them, be they email, file encryption, badge encryption, mobile device encryption, and so forth. That’s the philosophy upon which we based all of the products that we currently sell today at PGP Corporation. Our desire is to make sure that encryption could be deployed along a safe and sane, affordable and manageable path.”
“We then noticed increasing numbers of RIM/ Blackberry devices in our accounts,” says Dasher. “Our customers began asking us to provide PGP encryption on those devices. Conversely, the RIM Corp. sales force saw more PGP in their accounts. So we got together. The Blackberry operating system is proprietary, so they weren’t terribly eager to share it with us. We said, ‘Hey no problem. We’ll give you the APIs for our encryption platform and you can PGP to the OS,’ which is exactly what they did, in the form of the PGP Support Package for Blackberry, which allows it – if it has OS release 4.1 or later - to plug right into the PGP Encryption Platform.”
Headquartered in the U.K., Synchronica (News - Alert) plc develops and markets industry standard mobile email and synchronization solutions for many mobile devices. Mobile operators, device manufacturers, and service providers in emerging and developed markets use Synchronica products to provide mobile email, PIM synchronization, and backup and restore services to their consumer and corporate customer base. Their products include the Mobile Gateway (News - Alert) push-email and synchronization solution (it synchronizes calendar and contact over the air, using openindustry standards and works with 1.3 billion phones) and the Mobile Backup mass market device backup solution.
Synchronica’s CEO, Carsten Brinkschulte (News - Alert), says, “In terms of enterprise mobility, our infrastructure software enables mobile email and synchronization. We do this for the profession consumer but also obviously for the enterprise. We believe there is much ‘blur’ between these two areas with regards to mobility. Our Synchronica Mobile Gateway delivers Blackberry-type services on regular mobile phones, in a sort of poor man’s Blackberry scenario. We enable regular devices from almost all device manufacturers to send and receive email and to synchronize their address books and calendars, which sounds a bit ‘bread and butter’ dull, because everybody believe they can do it these days. But Synchronica achieves this in a different way, and in the long run we believe our way is the best and will perhaps become the standard way of doing things. Unlike most other companies in this field, we have always been a big proponent of industry standards for data synchronization and mobile email.”
“Most other solutions in this space are instead betting on proprietary implementations of push email and synchronization,” says Brinkschulte. “Proprietary protocols from companies such as Cisco (News - Alert) and Microsoft enable push email and synchronization on some devices, but they require special software that supports the proprietary protocol to be present in the device. In other words, you must install an additional client on the headset and it typically needs some support behind the firewall of the enterprise. Synchronica has been the proponent of a different approach, which uses open industry standards. Around 2000 – 2001 industry standards were defined for data synchronization and email. These industry standards became widely-adopted in the past three or four years in almost all devices. Those industry standards enable vendor independence / mix-and-match, push email and synchronization solutions, basically avoiding the usual single-vendor ‘lock-in’ problem of competing solutions based on proprietary protocols. One of these industry standards began as SyncML [Synchronization Markup Language], which, after the formation of the Open Mobile Alliance, was renamed to OMADS [Open Mobile Alliance Data (News - Alert) Synchronization]. It’s used to synchronize data such as calendars, contacts and so forth, to mobile devices like PDAs and smartphones. OMADS is supported in about 1.5 billion handsets. About 85 percent of all phones shipping this month have OMADS support built in. As for email, the industry standard is IMAP [Internet Message Access Protocol].”
“Our Synchronica Mobile Gateway simply utilizes the industry standard clients which are already supported in millions of phones out there,” says Brinkschulte. “We just enable these clients to send and receive email and synchronize such things as calendars. Unlike our competition, we can do this without requiring additional software to be installed.” IT
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