Sunday, October 24, 2021

Websphere Is Well Aware of Surroundings

Continuing its quest to become the mobile infrastructure provider of
choice, IBM will unveil on Tuesday a new version of its WebSphere
Everyplace Access middleware product and a packaged solution designed to
help enterprises from small to large rapidly deploy infrastructure to
support their mobile workers.

With WebSphere Everyplace Access (WEA), IBM aims to create a uniform,
extensible architecture for deploying mobile capabilities that can be
tightly integrated with existing core infrastructure. It provides support
for personal information management (PIM), embedded databases, and Web
content. The platform also provides a set of tools for developing mobile
applications and accessing core order entry, field service, repair,
inventory, insurance claims processing and supply chain systems.

The new version, WEA 4.3, adds a number of new features in location-aware
services, intelligent notification, device management, e-mail push and
instant messaging. It also boasts enhanced integration with WebSphere
Portal
for remote portlet access, database synchronization and offline forms, a
development toolkit to create, emulate, test and debug applications, and
support for cell phones, smart phones, and the Palm, Pocket PC, embedded
Linux and Symbian operating systems. Rodney Adkins, general manager of
IBM’s
Pervasive Computing division, said the product now supports more than 90
percent of handheld platforms.

“Pervasive computing, from an IBM perspective, is really about having
access
to information your way,” Adkins told internetnews.com. “We’ve been
really focused on extending the IT infrastructure to new devices.”

IBM is highlighting the new Intelligent Notification Services (INS), which
allow the system to proactively notify mobile employees of new information
or events triggered from email, supply chain, news feeds or enterprise
systems. INS utilizes a scalable publish-subscribe engine that monitors
multiple information sources for user-specified matches. The user can
decide
to have the alerts pushed to a cell phone, pager or PDA.

For instance, an INS-enabled supply chain application could issue a
“Stock-Out Alert” when inventory reaches critical levels. IBM said the same
notification engine could be used to alert emergency response teams of
emergency conditions, account executives of customer orders, or field
service personnel of a machine outage.

IBM said it has also made strides in location-aware services, which can
dynamically incorporate mapping, routing and information directories within
applications through GPS. Adkins said retailers could use the capabilities
to push in-store promotions to customers, while the system could also be
used to re-route crews for emergency response or to reschedule field
service
and deliveries.

The new improvements are incremental, Adam Zawel, director of
Wireless/Mobile Enterprise & Commerce, at research firm The Yankee Group,
told internetnews.com. However, he noted that the improvements and
refinements continue to cement Big Blue’s leadership position in mobile
computing.

“We believe that almost any company can benefit from the right mobile
strategy and IBM is in the position to put all the pieces together,” Zawel
said.

The United States Air Force is looking to IBM to provide these new
capabilties in order to streamline its aircraft maintenance operations. The
Air Force Material Center at Hill Air Force Base, in Ogden, Utah, has
turned
to Big Blue to overhaul the way it manages worldwide logistical support for
the repair, replacement and maintenance of components for the U.S.’s fleet
of F-16, A-10, and C-130 planes.

The base will use WEA 4.3, WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager (WECM)
and AIX eServers to provide its logistics managers with real-time on-demand
wireless access to its Automated Manifest Tracking System (AMTS). The AMTS
system helps Air Force depots track and account for the delivery and
distribution of parts between its worldwide bases and the Defense Logistics
Agency.

While the initial deployment is through Hill Air Force Base, Adkins said
IBM
hopes to win future Air Force contracts based on Hill’s results.

“We evaluated several products on the market very carefully and selected
IBM
based on its industry expertise at providing an open, integrated, secure
end-to-end wireless solution that we expect to save the Air Force millions
of dollars each year,” said Myron Anderson, provisional IT director, Hill
Air Force Base. “Our requirements for high-grade security, device
independence and flexibility were highly demanding. The WebSphere platform
offers FIPS-compliant encryption, fast implementation, immediate email
access across a range of devices and a programming model for legacy
applications like AMTS.”

IBM is looking to extend those capabilties to the private sector as well,
and has created a package dubbed the Mobile Office Entry Jumpstart to help
it make that sell. The Jumpstart package — which Adkins said is a perfect
solution for both small and medium enterprises as well as large enterprises
looking to start small before growing — includes IBM eServers, WEA 4.3,
WECM, IBM services, and Palm Tungsten devices. The package is priced at
under $100,000, depending on the number of users (the package supports up
to
50).

“The initial offering has been packaged with Palm and Sprint,” Adkins said.
“I think it is ideally priced and targeted for small business environments,
but I think this offering can apply to large enterprises that want to start
small and grow fast.”

Yankee’s Zawel agreed, noting that IBM can bolster its leadership position
in mobile computing by adding attractive offerings for smaller businesses
and wireless carriers to its already strong large enterprise presence.

“For just $100K they can put the different pieces together and you can have
something up and running. It’s very compelling,” Zawel said.

The WECM software enables seamless roaming between wireline connections,
public wireless local area network (PWLAN) hotspots and existing public
wireless connections. Lucent is working with the company to
integrate WECM with its offerings, and IBM’s Jumpstart package will include
up to 50 aircards provided by carriers that support cdma2000 1XRTT
networks.

However, IBM said WEA 4.3 does not yet run on Linux servers, though the
forthcoming WEA 5.0 will likely add that capability.

“Most of the environments we’ve been installing these types of products on
need some of the scale and robustness that AIX provides,” Adkins said.

Still, Zawel said that Yankee Group positions IBM as the leader in the
space, despite competition from other enterprise infrastructure providers
like Sun Microsystems , Microsoft ,
BEA Systems , and Oracle . Yankee
also gives IBM the lead among systems integrators working on the wireless
front, including Accenture , Hewlett-Packard and BearingPoint .

“They’re doing very well on both fronts,” Zawel said of IBM. “We’ve ranked
them as number one.”

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