Flexibility Is Onebridge Mobiles Strong Point

GroupWare update enables fast access to data from a variety of devices.

OneBridge Mobile Groupware 4.0, from extended Systems Inc., enables companies to provide mobile device users with flexible access to e-mail and PIM data stored on IBMs Lotus Domino 4.6, R5 and R6 servers, as well as Microsoft Corp.s Exchange 5.5 and 2000 servers.

The product, which began shipping last month, is a follow-on to Extended Systems XtndConnect Server. OneBridge 4.0 boasts the same broad range of device support that has impressed eWEEK Labs in prior versions, with new push and browser-based delivery options to bolster the products already-strong synchronization capabilities. (See review of XtndConnect Server 3.0.)

The OneBridge server is priced at $10,000, plus $215 per seat, with a 17.5 percent yearly support and maintenance contract. This is more costly than competing products from Research In Motion Ltd. and Good Technology Inc., but with a broader feature set and range of supported devices to match.

The mobile-device world is considerably more platform-diverse than the desktop space, and the breadth of OneBridges device support leaves companies free to select a variety of mobile devices while ensuring that theyll be able to provide users of these devices with a consistent set of data services.

Whats more, OneBridge provides a central point from which administrators can manage mobile devices. In addition, the product now ships with a browser-based data access component, called Real Time Server, which we did not test. This component enables any device with a browser to access corporate groupware data.

OneBridge Mobile Groupware 4.0

Extended Systems OneBridge Mobile Groupware 4.0 enables companies to provide their handheld device users with ready access to corporate data, while keeping options open both on the back end and client side. The cost is $10,000 plus $215 per seat. Although this is higher than competitors prices, OneBridge Mobile Groupware 4.0 offers a broader feature set and supports a wider range of devices.
















  • PRO: Broad device support; strong management tools; offers push, sync and browser-based routes for accessing data.
  • CON: Weaknesses in native handheld client applications, such as lack of e-mail subfolder support, can reduce products effectiveness.

• Goods GoodLink 2.0 • RIMs BlackBerry Enterprise Server

OneBridge supports synchronization and push- message delivery for mobile devices that run Palm OS 3.5 or greater and Windows CE 3.0 or greater—together comprising nearly all available Palm and Pocket PC devices.

The product also supports devices running Symbian Ltd.s Symbian OS Version 6.0 and RIMs BlackBerry OS 2.1, as well as devices that use SyncML 1.0.1, the XML-based data synchronization standard. In comparison, RIM supports Exchange and Domino on the back end but offers companies very limited device options on the client side.

In the past, we have been impressed with Wireless Knowledge Inc.s Workstyle server as another cross-platform-friendly data access option, which supported Windows CE, Palm OS, RIM and Wireless Application Protocol devices. However, Wireless Knowledge parent company Qualcomm Inc. opted earlier this year to kill the Workstyle product.

The OneBridge server components run on Windows NT 4 Service Pack 6a or on Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 2. We tested OneBridge on a Windows 2000 Server system, which we connected to an Exchange 2000 back end.

With this configuration, we had to install a copy of Outlook 2000 on the server. Outlook 2000 is nearly two versions old now, and availability could be tricky—it took a bit of casting about the Labs to find a copy to use in our tests.

OneBridge encrypts communications between device and server and does not stage data outside the data source for synchronization. We were able to use the products administration console to enforce password protection on our test devices, and we could also issue a kill order to our unit that would wipe the devices RAM storage.

OneBridge features a two-tier authentication scheme. The first ensures that the user is permitted to access OneBridge; the second consists of authentication to the Exchange, Domino or database server with which the user synchronizes.

During tests, we used Exchange alone for authentication, but OneBridge also works with Lotus Notes, Microsofts Windows NT and Active Directory, RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service), and SecureID for authentication.

eWEEK Labs tested OneBridge with a Palm Inc. Tungsten T device, which we synchronized with our Microsoft Exchange account over the Tungsten Ts Bluetooth radio link. We also tested using a Toshiba Corp. e740 Pocket PC 2002 device, as well as the e740s 802.11b radio for connectivity.

These configurations were well-suited to OneBridges new LiveConnect feature, which pushed data updates to our test devices over their radio links as the information in their associated Exchange accounts changed. This approach over time spreads out the load of delivering fresh data to and from the device and ensures that information at both ends stays updated.

As with previous versions of OneBridge, we could initiate our own synchronization sessions, and we could synchronize through device cradles using a small desktop client that ships with OneBridge.

We could closely configure the operation of the clients, adjusting their operation based on changing device battery levels and creating multiple profiles to suit different sorts of connectivity.

OneBridge synchronized data with the native PIM applications on our test devices. With the Pocket PC 2002 device we used, OneBridge synchronized our e-mail with the native Inbox application. For the Tungsten T, OneBridge ships with a mail client called MailPlus.

However, neither Mail-Plus nor Inbox supported e-mail subfolders—severely limiting the usefulness of the mail synchronization during tests.

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Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_ brooks@ziffdavis.com.