Big Blue on the Go

IBM discusses its latest "pervasive computing" technologies-tools that give you access to computing power wherever you may be.

IBM had its latest tools and strategies for pervasive computing—technologies that give you access to computing power outside the home and office—on display this week at its Industry Solutions Lab in Hawthorne, New York, just north of Manhattan. The centerpiece of the companys presentation was its WebSphere Everyplace Access product, but the company also provided a glimpse of several mobile technologies currently under development at IBMs research labs.

For the most part, IBM isnt interested in building new types of mobile hardware devices. Instead, the company is concerned with developing software that can enhance third-party mobile devices and offer new ways for those devices to interact with the world around them. "Our focus is on building pervasive computing technologies from a software perspective, adding capabilities to a broad range of devices and building a middleware infrastructure that can leverage IBMs existing portfolio of [server] products," said Rod Atkins, general manager of IBM Softwares pervasive computing unit.

The middleware Atkins speaks of, WebSphere Everyplace Access, sits on a companys servers, letting mobile workers access all sorts of enterprise data and applications from various third-party handhelds including Palm-based devices, Pocket PCs, and Sharp Zauruses. It allows handhelds to send and receive e-mail and instant messages, retrieve customer and sales information, and even download maps and driving directions.

"The industry has created all these innovative mobile devices and applications," said Craig Hayman, an IBM pervasive computing vice president. "Our aim is to tie them together."

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