ESI Expands Enterprise Offerings

Extended Systems is shifting its product line toward the enterprise and is partnering to improve the OneBridge server.

Extended Systems Inc. is expanding its enterprise strategy with added services, support and security for its remote access server solutions.

The wireless middleware developer is forming partnerships with carriers, systems integrators and security companies to improve its OneBridge Mobile Server software.

"Our corporate emphasis is shifting to support the enterprise," said Charles Jepson, president and CEO of ESI, in Boise, Idaho.

In the next few months, ESI plans to switch its support coverage from a model of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. to a full-time, "follow-the-sun" model, Jepson said. On the carrier side, ESI partners with companies outside the United States, but within the next three months, the company will establish a partnership with Sprint PCS Group, he said.

ESI is also making a point to team with systems integrators that have more service experience than it does. ESI has two major project proposals pending with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Group, Jepson said. Last week, the company announced a formal agreement with Hewlett-Packard Co. to market and support mail and messaging, field service automation, and sales force automation server software along with HPs client hardware.

Through partnerships with security software companies, which Jepson declined to name, ESI this summer will add user-based authentication support to the security of the OneBridge server, beyond the current Secure Sockets Layer support.

Some customers welcomed the changes, saying that ESI tended to work in a vacuum in the past but that service has improved since Jepson took over in August.

"Last year, one of the things I was asking for was end-to-end support," said Greg Nelson, senior technology consultant for remote access and client services at Russell Investment Group, in Tacoma, Wash., which is licensed for 500 OneBridge users but plans to extend remote access support to employees worldwide. "But I was hearing, Dont talk to us about the carrier, and dont talk to us about the devices. They were just about middleware. Thats gone from night to day [with Jepson]. They used to say they were a technical company providing a technical solution. Now theyre an enterprise company with enterprise solutions."

Jepson said the companys main competitor is still Research In Motion Ltd. and its BlackBerry Enterprise Server. RIM, of Waterloo, Ontario, has had a reputation for successful products but too few partners. RIM officials said that this year, several devices that run on the companys BES will emerge from third-party companies.

Meanwhile, enterprise software companies are rolling out their own wireless middleware. Computer Associates International Inc. offers remote access to its Unicenter software via a homegrown access manager. This supports devices based on PalmSource Inc.s Palm OS and Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC; support for Symbian Ltd.s smart-phone OS is coming soon.

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