By Dan Jones Palm Computing Inc’s deal with Riverbed Technologies – to use its ScoutSync Server software as the basis of its new HotSync Server synchronization software – has been presented as a great leap forward in the enterprise capabilities of the Palm handheld devices. However, despite the fanfare, the real enterprise breakthrough for Palm […]
By Dan Jones
Palm Computing Inc’s deal with Riverbed Technologies – to use its ScoutSync Server software as the basis of its new HotSync Server synchronization software – has been presented as a great leap forward in the enterprise capabilities of the Palm handheld devices. However, despite the fanfare, the real enterprise breakthrough for Palm will not happen until the 3Com Corp company finishes work on a standard server-side application protocol interface and a communication protocol – which will allow any company to develop links between server-side databases and other enterprise applications and build synchronization capabilities into browsers any other apps used on the Palm platform. Palm is working with AvantGo.Com, Puma Technology Inc and other sync software vendors to develop an industry standard API and protocol, which will be included in the next version of the HotSync software, due in the Fall of next year. Palm’s deal with Riverbed puts in place the foundations of an enterprise strategy but the house is yet to be completed.
The deal is undoubtedly a coup for tiny Reston, Virginia-based Riverbed, as it beat out more established vendors to become the basis of the HotSync software. The software enables cross- platform synchronization of both Palm and CE devices with a company’s back-end servers, rather than simply with a user’s desktop PC. However, at the moment, the software does not extend the range of applications that the Palm devices can sync with beyond the usual Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange email and calendar functions. This server-based solution is primarily designed for PIM [personal information management] exchange, comments Felix Lin, the CEO of AvantGo. Mark Bonie, the enterprise group product marketing manager at Palm said that Palm had chosen the Riverbed software because of the company’s partnerships with firms like Sybase Inc. They had installed customers that we felt we could talk to, Bonie said.
There are other issues that need to be addressed before Palm devices work with enterprise systems in the way that Palm envisages. Adding encryption and authentication to Palm sync software will be a key piece of the jigsaw for many companies that want to use the devices. That’s a very high priority, Bonie said. In addition, on the client side, the server sync software is currently integrated with the user desktop sync software. Palm is keen to make the entire process a one click affair.
The out-of-the-blue deal has surprised many in the industry. Felix Lin cautioned against viewing the tie-up as a David and Goliath affair and added that there were some misconceptions about what the Riverbed software does. However, he said he felt that ultimately the deal would have positive benefits for the Palm industry. Rather than spelling doom for everyone in the Palm economy, other than Riverbed, it means that every Palm device will be able to link to corporate systems, Lin said. However, the other major sync software player appears to have had its fur ruffled by the deal. Puma Technology made what seemed to be a spoiler announcement yesterday; its sync software will be used by Intel Corp in its Bluetooth software and modules (see separate story).