Sun Microsystems Inc., Research In Motion Ltd. and Sybase Inc. are each readying products and services that could expedite the development of mobile enterprise applications.
Sun and RIM will join forces at the CTIA Wireless conference in Atlanta this week to announce plans to bring Java Web services to RIMs corporate customers. While more than 250 million mobile devices support Java today, the majority of available mobile applications are tailored to the consumer. Sun and RIM are hoping their moves will get the enterprise in on the action.
Sun will help RIM build Web services tools for Java-based BlackBerry devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which will work directly with Suns content servers, said Sun officials in Santa Clara, Calif. Suns professional services division will help customers that want to mobilize their back-end applications with Java.
“The excitement around the consumer Java experience is translating into both excitement and deployment for Web services on J2ME [Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition],” said David Rivas, chief technology officer of the consumer and mobile systems group at Sun.
Beyond the Sun partnership, RIM officials said they are looking at how to support back-end Web services from companies such as Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., BEA Systems Inc. and IBM, although they declined to provide details.
“Wireless Web services have jumped on the radar screen in the last 45 days,” said Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-CEO of RIM, in Waterloo, Ontario. “Were making darn sure that we connect seamlessly and securely to the Web services back end that corporations are implementing. Suns doing a lot of content servers, and were doing a lot of tool extension.”
Support for Web services will get applications in customers hands faster, said officials at eAgency Inc., a customer relationship management and sales force automation developer that works with Sun and RIM.
“The service may perform a complex function that a junior programmer wouldnt be able to easily write,” said Tim Allard, chief operating officer at eAgency, in Newport Beach, Calif. “We are looking to start incorporating these features into our development process and applications.”
Wireless Web services also mean more enterprise offerings from carriers. To wit, Sun and Verizon Wireless at CTIA will demonstrate a wireless version of eAgencys Nice Office application suite for the BlackBerry, officials said. Several carriers will launch the application next quarter, Allard said.
Web designers like the idea that the adoption of Web services gives them the power of programmers, as long as they know XML, and this may help maintain the purity of the application. (RIM, for its part, decided to favor Java over C++ a few years ago.)
“As a designer, I hate handing over something to programmers who then pervert my original design in order to make it easier to code,” said Byron Seese, a Web designer at Animation Technologies Inc., in Boston.
Meanwhile, Sybase at the CTIA conference will launch Sybase Mach Desktop. Designed for ISVs, the software supports and captures Web, database and XML services content for PCs, PDAs, mobile phones and kiosks, said officials at the Dublin, Calif., company.
Sybase Mach Desktop captures application data, transforms it to a developers format of choice and then plays it back via a personalized Web portal, said Dave Wolf, senior engineering manager at Sybase. Supported formats include HTML for PCs, Wireless Markup Language, XML, Compact HTML and Interactive Voice Response.
The software supports offline connectivity through integration with its iAnywhere M-Business technology. Due next month, the software carries a 60MB footprint and runs on Windows 2000 and higher Linux and Solaris servers.
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