App Access Added to IM

Sprint's UAM service offers users an easy way to retrieve data.

Sprint Communications Co. lP, which made its enterprise instant messaging debut in April, is seeking to up the ante with the release last week of its Universal Application Messaging software.

UAM uses the same buddy list interface as Sprints Enterprise IM software. But instead of providing presence information on other IM users, UAM provides access to applications via IM to mobile workers using handheld devices.

UAM creates an "applications buddy list" where icons that represent applications can be added. Users can then query those applications in IM using natural language.

Sprint officials, in Overland Park, Kan., said the IM form factor is an effective way of accessing information through wireless devices, since the text messaging interface requires less bandwidth than a typical wireless Web browser would.

Users will be able to access simple contact information from corporate directories as well as information from more complex applications, such as updates from inventory management applications, Sprint officials said. In addition, UAM will be able to receive IM or e-mail alerts from those applications, such as for inventory shortages.

Some configuration will be required to connect UAM with specific applications, Sprint officials said, although the company will provide services to assist customers in that regard.

Sprint UAM can be used on any Java 2 Mobile Edition-compatible handheld device as well as Palm OS devices, officials said. Support is also planned for Pocket PC devices, officials said.

Officials said devices with particularly elegant interfaces such as Handspring Inc.s Treo and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.s I-300 will be best suited for the service.

The UAM service features standard Secure Sockets Layer encryption and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service for user authentication and can support additional layers of security. It runs on second-generation, 2.5G and 3G wireless networks.

Michael Sampson, an analyst at Ferris Research Inc., in San Francisco, said Sprint UAM is another example of how IM is increasingly being integrated with business applications. "It makes a lot of sense to have these [IM] capabilities available in the applications that people use on a moment-by-moment basis," Sampson said.

Sprints move should have an added benefit for wireless service providers.

"This will help Sprint drive mobile airtime, which will be good for the bottom line," Sampson said. Inc. announced similar technology last month with its Airforce Wireless Edition.

In related news, Vayusphere Inc. last week announced the latest version of its Instant Response Server, known as IRiS. Version 3.0 combines a presence, availability and location server; a response agent server; secure IM; and enterprise application integration.

Enterprise applications supported out of the box in this release include BMC Software Inc.s Remedy Help Desk and Computer Associates International Inc.s Unicenter Service Desk.

Call centers will be able to use IRiS 3.0 to route live chat requests to help desk analysts via IM.

Version 3.0 also supports integration with corporate directories, enabling instant lookup of employee contact information and messaging to the device on which they are present and available. That also enables the use of embedded agents in enterprise servers to route actionable alerts to available system administrators regarding system issues such as disk, memory and process failures, said Vayusphere officials, in Mountain View, Calif.