HP to Show Mobile Agility

Package targets users leery of wireless.

Hewlett-Packard Co. aims to help enterprise customers ease into the world of wireless connectivity with a new demo plan and partnership that marries its iPaq devices with Extended Systems Inc.s new messaging server.

This month, HP will announce a plan that includes four steps to help prove the value of enterprise wireless products to IT managers who may be reluctant to make large investments in technology they havent tried, officials said. "We want to help them avoid the Catch-22 of [return on investment]," said Richard Stone, wireless and mobility solutions manager for the Americas at HP, in Houston.

Stone declined to comment on the details of the strategy, but sources who attended an internal sales meeting last month said there are four phases. The demo phase, which is a free trial, includes a server, devices and a printer. It is meant only to show how wireless data access works; it does not integrate with a companys existing production systems. The proof-of-concept phase has more handheld devices and installation services, with limited live-data functions but no external access. This will cost $5,000 to $10,000, sources said.

The pilot phase, which is a bundled package, has at least two servers and 10 devices; service and support; and full, secure remote access to corporate data. This will cost $30,000 to $100,000, sources said. The final phase is deployment, which entails customizing the bundle from the pilot phase to meet specific application needs. Pricing will vary.

Key to HPs strategy is new wireless server software from ESI that HP will offer. ESI this week will introduce OneBridge Mobile Groupware, which is Version 4.0 of the software formerly known as XtndConnect Server. OneBridge features push technology that ESI acquired with the purchase of Viafone Inc. last year, according to ESI officials, in Boise, Idaho. Data is pushed constantly from the server to the device, and it is never staged outside the firewall. A Persistent Status user interface keeps users informed of data receipt and delivery, regardless of connection status.

HP, which has yet to offer an iPaq that integrates wireless technology, is suggesting a solution in which the server will push information to a cell phone, which will relay the information to an iPaq Pocket PC device through a Bluetooth connection, Stone said. HP also has research and development agreements with ESI. "Were working with the iPaq development team on issues like power management," said Scott Stingley, director of alliances at ESI.

OneBridge supports a variety of mobile phone platforms; Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC and PalmSource Inc.s Palm OS; and WANs and LANs. As with previous versions of XtndConnect Server, it supports Microsofts Exchange and IBMs Lotus Software divisions Notes.

HP plans to offer OneBridge as the wireless server for all customers that use Notes, Exchange 5.5 or Exchange 2000. HP will recommend an all-Microsoft solution for buyers that use Exchange 2003 because it includes built-in wireless capabilities. That could render OneBridge unnecessary for Exchange, but users say thats going to take a while. "We would treat that as a separate issue," said John Rutherford, a senior analyst at Frank Russell Co., a financial management services company in Tacoma, Wash., that is beta testing the OneBridge server. "We need to do something soon for the mobility, and we wont be doing [Exchange 2003] probably, until 2005."