At 3GSM Show, Software Titans to Boost Enterprise Wireless Support

IBM, HP and Sun team with traditional mobile hardware companies to fill enterprises' wireless needs.

Several major software companies are teaming with traditional mobile hardware companies to address enterprise wireless needs on the client side and the back end.

High-tech powerhouses including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are planning to unveil significant software support deals this week at the 3GSM World Congress show in Cannes, France.

IBM, for example, has joined forces with Nokia Corp. on a mix of software for Nokias 9500 Communicator smart phone, the companys first new Communicator since 2002, which will debut at the show. The 9500 bests previous Communicators supporting tri-band Global System for Mobile Communications and 802.11b wireless LANs. IBMs WebSphere Everyplace Client has been optimized for the device and supports roaming between local and wide-area wireless networks.

"Connectivity is one of the areas that makes [corporate IT] hesitate to allow enterprise applications on mobile devices," said Letina Connelly, director of strategy for IBMs pervasive computing division, in Somers, N.Y.

Other IBM software planned for the 9500 includes WebSphere Micro Environment and IBM Tivoli and Lotus Sametime Instant Messaging clients, all of which provide access to a variety of back-end software.

Meanwhile, SAP AG, Computer Associates International Inc., Oracle Corp. and Symantec Corp. are supporting the 9500 with their back-end software as well, said officials at Nokia in Espoo, Finland.

For security, the 9500 includes a VPN client as well as Secure Sockets Layer encryption. It also includes a VGA camera, which is a security concern for some customers. Officials said they will address concerns when the device gets closer to launching in the United States. It is due in the fourth quarter. Officials declined to share U.S. pricing but said the European model will cost approximately $1,000.

The 9500 supports HTML, Extensible HTML, HTML 4.01 and JavaScript 1.3. The device runs Nokias Series 80 platform on top of Version 7.0 of the Symbian operating system, which is more popular in Europe.

"Im much less interested [in the Communicator series] now that the Palm OS has been well-integrated into a phone," said Christopher Bell, chief technology officer of Boston-based People2People Group Inc., who uses a Treo 600 from Palm Inc. "Im not interested in learning yet another portable operating system."

Sun at the show will launch several programs and tool kits in support of its J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition). Java Technology for Smartphones HotSpot Implementation is a new version of J2ME that runs as much as six times faster than the current reference implementation, said officials at the Santa Clara, Calif., company. The new version is in developers hands and should appear in handsets by the end of the year.

To complement this, Sun is launching J2ME Web Services, which lets mobile devices gain access to Web services using XML and Simple Object Access Protocol.

Also, Sun will join Nokia, Siemens AG and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB to launch the Java Verified program to provide a unified process for the testing and certification of mobile Java applications. This way, developers can test once and run everywhere, officials said.

Sun also plans to announce a partnership with Singapore mobile operating system provider Radixs Private Ltd. to enable Radixs platform to support Suns StarOffice software suite, according to sources close to Radixs. The Radixs platform, dubbed MXI (mobile experience interface) will appear on mobile devices in the United States by midyear, sources said.

HP, for its part, is working with Ericsson on a communications system for enterprise customers, which the companies will demonstrate at the Cannes show. The system helps manage wired and wireless communications in part by integrating them, said officials at HP, in Palo Alto, Calif. For example, both mobile voice and data calls can be routed through a central switch, which allows for flat-rate billing, officials said. Initially available in Europe, the system should be available in the United States by the end of the year.