Enterprise Wireless/Mobility Considerations, Part 1

Over the past few years, I've helped develop and deliver numerous wireless applications that revolve around such key technologies as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), Short Message Service (SMS), and VoiceXML. During that time, I've encountered many issues that apply specifically to the enterprise. If you're implementing or considering a mobility solution for the enterprise, you must address a few key considerations.

First, you must consider the many devices and device types on the market, including PDAs (e.g., Palm devices, Pocket PCs), pagers (e.g., Research in Motion's—RIM's—Blackberry), and cell phones and smart phones (e.g., Kyocera QCP 6035, Ericsson r380). These device types will converge significantly over the coming years, but standardization will be difficult. Many companies that attempt to standardize on certain devices find that enterprise users demand support for all device types.

Second, many carriers operate in the US market, and most of them use different wireless technology and protocol types. Wireless protocols include Global System for Mobiles (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (IDEN), Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA), Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD), and SMS. With 2.5G and 3G technologies emerging, we're seeing new protocols such as General Packet Radio System (GPRS), 1xRTT or 3xRTT, Unified Mobile Telephone System (UMTS), and Wideband CDMA (WCDMA). These carriers and protocols are all important for wireless-solution delivery. However, no IT department wants delivery solutions that depend on specific protocols.

Third, many vendors offer wireless and mobile technology and software solutions. Hundreds of vendors claim that their products are "best of breed," "device agnostic," and "support all types of enterprise data sources." The solutions can include enterprise connectivity, email, field force, synchronization, and various other mobility solutions. However, no vendors currently offer a complete wireless/mobile solution.

So how do you make any sense of all these devices, carriers, protocols, and vendors? The key to delivering successful wireless and mobile solutions now—and, more importantly, in the future—is to use standardized technologies, such as WAP and VoiceXML. Wireless Middleware is also key to any enterprise strategy because it provides a common platform for mobile-application delivery.

Next time, I'll continue this discussion about enterprise mobility considerations and the importance of wireless middleware for delivering wireless solutions. But before I sign off, here's some news: The WAP Forum has officially released WAP 2.0, which significantly enhances the WAP environment for wireless-application delivery. WAP 2.0 enhancements include support for XHTML and other protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS). Over the next couple of years, the development and delivery of wireless applications will become more and more similar to the delivery of existing Web and Internet applications. Usability and application design will vary, but coding and development techniques will remain similar. For more information about WAP 2.0, visit the WAP Forum Web site.

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