Synchrologic Adds Value to Handheld Devices
Handhelddevices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and wireless phones enteredthe enterprise as status gadgets for executives, but they have gained anincreasingly important role within the enterprise. One company, Synchrologic,developed a technology for pushing more enterprise data out to these smalldevices.
Administratorscan wait for Microsoft’s Mobile Information Server (MIS) to support Exchange onPDAs, but Synchrologic’s RealSync 3.3 enables PalmOS devices to synchronizeservers over the network today.
Most userssynchronize their handheld devices with a desktop computer, using a slowwire-line connection to transfer data between the two machines. Synchrologicprovides a Windows NT server product that allows devices to sync directly withthe network over a number of connections, including wireless and dial-up modem.
“Beingconnection-agnostic is a necessary feature for providing a wirelessinfrastructure,” says Bill Jones, vice president of marketing at Synchrologic.Jones believes tying data delivery to a single connection, whether it’swireless or desktop wire-line, impedes user access to corporate data.
Serversrunning RealSync 3.3 offer a modular infrastructure for synchronizing Palms toExchange and Lotus Notes servers. Depending on the needs of the enterprise,administrators can configure the server to accept requests from a variety ofconnections.
AlthoughRealSync 3.3 does not support Exchange and Notes synchronization with WindowsCE and Pocket PC devices, Jack Gold, analyst at Meta Group, says he expectsSynchrologic to support these items relatively soon. “The intent for everyonein this business is going to be agnostic,” he says. Although PalmOS has a 75percent share of the handheld device market, he believes administrators willwant to offer the same level of support to all handheld users.
In additionto Exchange and Lotus Notes, RealSync can synchronize information betweenhandheld devices and databases. Synchrologic currently supports SQL Server,DB2, and Oracle databases. Jones says that the software attempts to be databaseagnostic, so administrators can tweak the software to work with nearly alldatabases.
Whendeciding on connectivity options, Jones says each enterprise must evaluate itsneeds. As an example, he points to organizations with users in remote areaswith have no access to wireless connections. For these enterprises, patienceand a dial-up are most appropriate.
Synchrologichas been developing software to connect mobile devices since the mid-1990s, butRealSync is its first attempt at synchronizing Exchange and Notes servers withPalmPilots. Jones says enterprises with mobile sales forces were partlyresponsible for driving Synchrologic to add personal information to itsproducts, which had been database oriented. Companies that deployed RealSyncfor moving information from the data center to sales staff, asked for theaddition of e-mail and contact information, which Synchrologic calls PersonalInformation Management (PIM).
Now, Jonessays the e-mail and contact info additions may drive the demand for RealSync.“Customers will want to start with PIM and e-mail, then move to advancedsyncing features,” he says. Meta Group’s Gold agrees, saying “Mostorganizations start with e-mail: It’s a pretty easy thing for most people tounderstand.” After e-mail is implemented, enterprises may become interested insales force automation and other applications on the wireless devices.
Gold saysPDAs and other handheld devices are beginning to present unusual challenges foradministrators. Because most devices are purchased by individuals, andenterprise value is just being demonstrated, 80 to 90 percent of enterprises[[don’t?]] have established policies for handheld device use. In addition, Goldsays that few enterprises either dictate devices to users or purchase devicesfor use in the organization.
Because ofthe evolving handheld environment, Gold says that it is critical forSynchrologic and competing companies to offer broad support for all handhelddevices.
AlthoughMicrosoft is beginning to enter the market for managing small devices, Goldsays Redmond is far from a player. “They’re ignoring the Palm devices, and theyjust can’t do that,” he says.
Synchrologicalso rolled out an all-PIM product, called ReadySyncGo, for both enterprise andconsumer users.
ReadySyncGois designed to push information out to Wireless Application Protocol-enableddevices for consistent availability of contact data, calendars, and otherpersonal information. Users set up an account on a central server with anindependent data store to enter contact information, schedules, and more. Theythen access the information with a WAP browser, such as a wireless phone ortext pager.
ReadySyncGooffers alerts for calendar events, detailed itineraries, and constantly updatedcontact information. Jones points to the ease of typing in contact informationon a keyboard as a selling point for ReadySyncGo compared with the primitiveentry system on phones.
The productwill be available in two forms: a server product for internal deployment in theenterprise and a free consumer Web service available at readysyncgo.com. Theconsumer version will enable users to input information themselves for deliveryto WAP phone. The enterprise version offers some advanced integration withcorporate servers.
Jones hopesreadysyncgo.com will generate interest for the enterprise version of theproduct. He calls it a showcase demo, with the purpose of allowingadministrators and decision makers to evaluate the product before decidingwhether or not to go with the product. Once administrators recognize the valueof ReadySyncGo, Jones believes they will want an internal deployment.“Corporate IT people get kind of nutty about their information running onsomeone else’s server,” he says.
To deployReadySyncGo, administrators need a Windows 2000 server and database softwarefor setting up the information store.
Gold saysthat until ReadySyncGo integrates with a messaging server, it will probablyremain a consumer offering. “In the long term, its got to have Exchange,” hesays. Gold does believe that readysyncgo.com will be useful in generating mindshare for Synchrologic. He compares it to releasing a public beta. “They justhave to say, ‘Why don’t we just keep it up and see what the problems are?’” heexplains.
Handhelddevices and wireless phones will become an increasingly large burden for ITdepartments. “No one looks at the back end cost of these devices,” Gold says.But because the small devices will play a part in a business’ ability tocompete, they will become essential. “There’s no option. You can’t just say ‘Wedon’t need these anymore,’” he says.
SynchrologicInc., Alpharetta, Ga., www.synchrologic.com
MetaGroup Inc., Stamford,Conn., www.metagroup.com