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Keeping mobile data in tune

In a perfect world, your mobile data would be as up-to-date as your e-mail messages. New push-based e-mail technologies are moving enterprise users one step closer to that ideal.

Everyone knows that mobile device synchronization is an integral and indispensable part of remote computing. After all, if you cannot easily synchronize your mobile device, your handheld computer or notebook PC is pretty much useless. It all goes back to the old "garbage-in/garbage-out" lessons we learned in Computing 101. The problem is that most of the synchronization technologies currently available -- like Microsoft's ActiveSync and the Palm personal information management (PIM) conduits -- require that the user initiate the synchronization process and then "pull" the latest information from the host server.

For the most part, this works pretty well -- provided that you have synchronized your device recently, and that your software preferences are set to update information on your mobile device and swap the latest refreshes to the host system. Ideally, it would be terrific to get and send all the latest updates and info additions on the fly, without having to worry if the stuff in your calendar, task list and contacts files are as up-to-the-minute as your e-mail messages.

This is the whole idea behind the latest version of iAnywhere Solution Inc.'s Pylon Anywhere, which has been enhanced to offer faster synchronization, customizable e-mail updates, compatibility with all leading PDA and smartphone platforms, and oh yes -- push technology, as opposed to the pull that is traditionally offered in 85% of the synchronization stuff out there. The Pylon technology joins a small handful of other similar alternatives out there, one of which is Good Technology's GoodLink (which was just announced, and will soon be available for the Pocket PC platform). GoodLink is presently offered on Palm-based PDAs and the new PalmOne's Treo 600 smartphone.

Most of these alternatives rely on IP-based or existing SMS-based technology, and allow host servers to automatically send e-mail and calendar information to mobile users. Users can also pre-set when to issue synchronized updates to a mobile device. The bottom line is that the technology eliminates the need for user-initiated synchronizations, and those antiquated docking garages.

Pylon Anywhere uses some fancy compression and automatic restart techniques to speed up the data transfer and synchronization process when using public wireless or Wi-Fi networks. The technology also expands upon its Microsoft Exchange compatibility by offering the ability to talk to Lotus Domino 6 and 6.5 environments, as well. This means Pylon has just about the entire corporate landscape covered. Pylon also features a Palm client, which includes attachment viewers and other enhancements that offer compatibility with Palm and Palm-based smartphone devices (such as the Treo 600).

Additional features of the synchronization technology include:

  • Support for SMS-enabled devices and WAP-based wireless phones (support for Microsoft's Smartphone 2002 and 2003 planned for a little later this year)
  • Strengthened security, to ensure the reliability and protection of corporate communications
  • FIPS 140-2 certified encryption between mobile devices and the enterprise

We spoke recently with Pylon senior product manager Marty Mallik about the new update. One feature that particularly excited him is the ability to configure e-mail messages to filter through only those from a certain person or containing specific words in a subject line. He also waxed enthusiastically about the built-in security features of the software, including its ability to run on a server that is entirely separate from a company's main Lotus Domino or Exchange system -- perfect for setting up a separate and distinct messaging firewall.

iAnywhere is hoping Pylon Anywhere will convince corporate users that Pocket PC and smartphones can be viable alternatives to the venerable Blackberry -- although we'll admit that Research in Motion, Inc. (RIM) is doing some remarkable things in terms of enhancing this product's original design, and third-party companies like Good Technology are doing a stellar job of providing useful and effective information conduit and interactive pipelines to mobile devices.

The iAnywhere team thinks Pylon is perfect as a salesforce automation tool, and is even eyeing three distinct industry segments for their synchronization attack: Mobile sales people from various industries, financial services and the legal sector. The company also expects good things in the delivery and logistics markets. For the moment, nearly all of Pylon Anywhere's beta testing has been accomplished on the financial side.

Meanwhile, the latest Pylon version is available now for a 30-day test drive by downloading a copy from the company's Web site. Visitors can also register for a Pylon Anywhere Webcast, scheduled for February 17 by signing up at

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