Enterprise Heavyweights Team Up for Wireless Standards

Because mobile phones have smaller screens and reducedprocessing power, pushing tools to users via the airwaves can be tricky. Inresponse, a consortium of enterprise vendors have announced they will support theOpen Mobile Architecture initiative to standardize Wireless applications andplatforms.

The initiative is backed by a number of heavy-hittersacross the enterprise IT industry, including application server vendor BEASystems Inc, handset manufacturer Nokia, development tool vendor BorlandSoftware Corp., Oracle, and diversified companies IBM, HP, and SunMicrosystems. Because of their weight in the industry, the consortium’sstandard is likely to fare well against vendors selling proprietary solutionssuch as Microsoft Corp.

The vendors agreed to support wireless extensions toSun’s J2EE Java specification. The extensions enable applications to interfacewith mobile phones, taking into account the limitations of the small devices.In addition to Java, the specification uses the WAP 2.0, MMS (MultimediaMessaging Service) and SyncML standards.

When set, the spec will enable enterprises to createserver-side applications running on J2EE application servers that can be pushedout to mobile phones. With the new extensions, developers will not have torewrite routines to have the applications interface with phones. Instead,developers can use the extensions as prefab pieces of code.

The standard extensions have not been set yet – theannouncement simply states the vendors are working together to create extensionbased on a set of mobile specifications. Developers will create extensions forthe application server, and then submit them to the Java Community Process forreview. Although Sun initially developed the Java spec, it now opens thestandards to the wider development community.

Acknowledging 3G’s difficulties, the consortium hasplanned the specification around a number of mobile environments, including thecurrent GSM/GPRS standard, which lacks the bandwidth and sophistication of 3G.–Chris McConnell