Good Technology's secure wireless system offers superb e-mail capabilities at a low price, but BlackBerry provides more features and platform options.
Enterprises looking for a robust, secured enterprise wireless messaging system should consider Good Technology Inc.s reasonably priced GoodLink 1.5 package. However, sites that need more than just wireless e-mail would do better to investigate the latest BlackBerry offerings from Research In Motion Ltd.
Good Technologys GoodLink system, which shipped earlier this month, comprises GoodLink Server, a Windows NT or Windows 2000 server running GoodLink server software; GoodLink application software; and the G100 wireless handheld. These components provide continuous two-way wireless synchronization between users e-mail client and the handheld.
GoodLink Server compresses and encrypts information and sends it to the companys GoodLink Operation Center using Secure Sockets Layer encryption. The GoodLink Operation Center routes the messages to mobile users handhelds via the Cingular Wireless Mobitex network.
GoodLink Server is priced at $2,000, plus $50 per user license. Prices for the Cingular service range from $35 per user per month with 1MB of monthly usage to $40 per user per month with up to 2MB of monthly usage. The G100 handheld costs $400, which is comparable to what RIM charges for its BlackBerry devices.
However, the GoodLink system works only on the Microsoft Corp. Exchange platform, whereas RIMs BlackBerry also supports IBMs Lotus Software divisions Domino.
The G100 handheld is easy to deploy and support because nothing needs to be installed on the client side (although IT staffs do need to install GoodLink Server, create policies and modify some Exchange settings to get the system up and running).
The G100s diminutive size is equally remarkable. Measuring less than 3 by 4 by 0.6 inches thick and weighing less than 5 ounces, the G100 is more compact than most wireless devices on the market, yet its large LCD screen provides crisp resolution and an ergonomic thumb keyboard with contoured keys that makes e-mail compositions a snap. Its backlighting illuminates both the screen and the keyboard, so users can work in low-light environments.
The G100 uses an ARM-based processor and boasts 8MB of flash memory and 16MB of RAM. In contrast, the BlackBerry 950 has only 4MB of flash memory and 512KB of RAM.
In eWeek Labs tests, provisioning the G100 for first-time use was surprisingly easy. We connected the G100 to GoodLink Server via the included Universal Serial Bus cable and downloaded the user data and applications. Each G100 has a unique serial number thats registered in the GoodLink Server Manager the first time the device is set up. After the data transfer, the G100 reboots, and its ready to roll.
We did find one possible catch: Data transfer can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the size of the users in-box. Users with a large amount of e-mail in their in-boxes will require a much longer initial synchronization time. A patch is available to download only new e-mail received after provisioning; we found provisioning was much faster after we installed the patch. Once this was done, the system worked without a hitch. Any e-mail activity we performed on our Microsoft Outlook client was automatically updated (with some latencyit took between 30 seconds and a minute) to the G100, without the need for a cradle or desktop software.
The GoodLink system uses VeriSign Inc. encryption and Good Technologys proprietary Positive Acknowledgement Architecture to provide guaranteed message delivery. The Positive Acknowledgement Architecture enables handheld devices to confirm delivery of every message with GoodLink Server and vice versa, ensuring that no e-mail is lost or duplicated.
GoodLink Server offers impressive security features, including password enforcement and remote administration. IT managers can enable the password protection policy on individual handhelds to protect corporate data. Once the policy is enabled from the GoodLink Management Console, users are required to enter a password to access data on the handheld. The G100 automatically erases data after 10 consecutive failed attempts.
The servers unique remote purge feature is also noteworthy: With the click of a button from the management console, an administrator can delete all user information from a handheld that is lost or stolen.
The GoodLink software enables the G100 to run all Microsoft Outlook e-mail features as well as a calculator, an alarm clock and even solitaire (the solitaire function can be disabled). The optional GoodInfo wireless information system provides query-based add-on services that can tie in to back-end applications, such as weather or travel services, and send results via e-mail. GoodInfo can be added at no extra cost. The software also runs on BlackBerry devices, so companies with an investment in wireless messaging can migrate without having to pay again. However, newer BlackBerry handheld devices offer a wider range of functions; companies should stick with the BlackBerry (at least for now) if users need third-party application support such as voice and wireless Internet capabilities.
Composing messages was fast and easy, and the navigation bar enabled us to quickly access a host of menu options. The navigation bar resides in the center of the device and has a center scroll wheel with left and right direction buttons.
The GoodLink handheld softwares auto-addressing and text auto-correcting abilities expedited the process even more. Unfortunately, this works only for the contacts in a users personal address list and doesnt apply to contacts in the Exchange Global Address List. Global addressing will be supported in the next software release, Good officials said.
Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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