Sun, Cisco Tell Devs to Build for Mobility

ATLANTA — Want secure mobile transactions with smart card devices? Need to move enterprise level computing to new mobile platforms?

If so, then you need developers with the ability to drill into legacy architectures and tweak them in order to lift full-blown applications off the desktop and into the palm of users’ hands, two top technology executives said Monday for the launch of CTIA Wireless 2004 here.

The comments came during keynote addresses by Scott McNealy, chief executive of systems vendor Sun Microsystems , and John Chambers, CEO of networking giant Cisco .

Instead of providing a demonstration, however, McNealy decided to run a quiz show for his keynote address. Using a “Jeopardy” format, McNealy posed an “answer” to the audience — 1.5 billion — and asked the audience to guess the “answer” with a question.

“What the estimated global cost of the MyDoom virus is?” he asked. Well, he continued, by some accounts the costs associated with viruses in January alone were $65 billion. “How many minutes are wasted globally, waiting for PCs to reboot?” he continued, as the audience chuckled at McNealy’s first of many jabs at its rival Microsoft , this time about patch and security issues in the Windows PC environment.

The answer, or question, in this case — How many mobile devices run on Java? The point is, he continued, “the Java environment is now outstripping the Microsoft world. Deal with it,” McNealy said.

For his next Jeopardy-style “answer” — 500 million — McNealy joked: “How many people write down their password on sticky notes?” Actually, the correct “question” is, “How many Java cards have been shipped worldwide?” he said.

Java cards with built in authentication encryption, such as a SIM-based smart card that lets a user plug into a network, are the future of mobile devices, he said. “Everybody 12 and over in Belgium is getting a Java card.”

Ultimately, he predicted, Java-based smart cards will replace your wallet, given the data, authentication and digital cash capabilities the Java-enabled cards will hold. McNealy also joked that sometimes his predictions come true.

“There are four million Java developers worldwide,” he said. “This is the leading platform for 77 carrier deployments globally for mobile applications. Mobility is way more than wireless. It’s not just about your cell phone and downloading apps. It’s about [the idea that] wherever you go, there you are.”

McNealy also demonstrated a prototype smart card that, when plugged into a PC, will broadcast the users’ phone calls to the computer using voice over IP (VoIP) transmission protocols. “When you pull the card out, you re-route all calls to your cell phone. You eliminate that phone at your desk. Not only does your phone follow you, but your desktop follows you, too.”

But Cisco’s Chambers later said architecture planning is critical to the new mobility with computing devices, as well as the continued convergence of voice and data over wireless networks.

This means thinking through “how the wired and wireless environment will grow together,” Chambers said.

Cisco’s new products include hardware that builds on new 3G networking features like one that combines Lucent’s Softswitch with Cisco’s MGX 8000 Series Media Gateways, which are designed to deliver high-speed data, multimedia and VoIP services.

That’s a far cry from how many enterprise applications were set up, he added. Back then, “voice was separate, and data was separate.” But now, with IP mobility the next big opportunity for the service environment, remember that these are not just the devices, “but how you build an infrastructure that combines data voice and video,” Chambers said.

“The IP [mobility] revolution is underway,” Chambers said. “My view is very simple. The changes have to be solved by an architectural approach [in order to enable] any service from any device where the network identifies what the device’s network capability is. It’s a blended version of the future.”

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