Server Keeps Data in
Companies can make the most of the handheld computers in their enterprise by providing them with flexible access to corporate mail and data via a server-based synchronization product—the sort of product that Extended Systems Inc. has been producing for years now.
eWeek Labs tested the latest synchronization server from Extended Systems, XtndConnect Server Professional Edition 3.0, and we were impressed with its flexibility both on the back end—where it supports Microsoft Corp.s Exchange and IBMs Lotus Domino groupware servers—as well as on the client side—where it can accommodate Palm OS, Windows CE and Symbian OS devices.
However, XtndConnect doesnt offer data access to WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) devices, as does Microsofts Mobile Information Server 2002.
XtndConnect, which shipped last month, is relatively easy to install and configure, and the client software that runs on the mobile devices is likewise simple to operate. We could set separate connection profiles on the devices we synchronized, conducting complete sync sessions when connecting through a LAN or through a desktop computer, or merely checking for new e-mail when using a slower, wireless connection.
XtndConnect is priced at $150 per seat, based on a 100-user volume, compared with the $70-per-user-per-year cost of Wireless Knowledge Inc.s Workstyle server product. XtndConnect runs on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. XtndConnect will synchronize data from Microsofts Exchange Server Versions 5.5 and 2000 and from Lotus Domino Server Versions 4.5, 4.6 and 5.0. XtndConnect will also synchronize data from any Open Database Connectivity-compliant database.
In addition to boosting availability of corporate data for mobile devices, XtndConnect provides IT departments with a centralized management framework for handheld computers, replacing a tough-to-support mixture of device-specific synchronization and mail redirector applications installed on individual desktops.
XtndConnect contains a nice facility for deploying its client software to handheld devices under its care, as well as the capacity for logging memory, battery, operating system and other data from these devices.
The Palm OS and Pocket PC XtndConnect clients contain a feature called AutoSync, which enables wireless-capable devices to periodically connect and synchronize—approximating an always-on user experience. For Palm i705 devices, XtndConnect features an AutoDelivery function, which delivers BlackBerry-type messaging.
We were particularly impressed by the MailPlus e-mail client for Palm OS devices that ships with XtndConnect. Working with XtndConnects built-in document conversion technology from DataViz Inc., MailPlus enabled us to receive and work with mail attachments saved in Microsoft Office file formats.
However, document conversion is one-way—to edit and reconvert these files to their desktop forms, users will require DataVizs Documents to Go 4.0 Professional Edition.
Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com.
XtndConnect Server Professional Edition
XtndConnect Server Professional Edition 3.0
Simplifying management tasks and extending corporate data to mobile devices, XtndConnect provides companies with a solid centerpiece for their handheld computer infrastructure.
SHORT-TERM BUSINESS IMPACT // With ready access to corporate data, handheld device users will experience a jump in their productivity right away.
LONG-TERM BUSINESS IMPACT // XtndConnects platform openness enables a company to choose the devices best suited to its needs—both now and in the future.
PROS // Well-designed client software; server easy to configure; e-mail attachment conversion for Palm OS devices.
CONS // Lacks support for WAP devices.
Extended Systems Inc., Boise, Idaho; (800) 235-7576; www.extendedsystems.com