IBM Takes On Demand Push to Mobile Apps

IBM drove its endeavor to bundle its autonomic and on-demand computing forays across its many divisions forward Monday when it unveiled infrastructure software that makes advanced computing away from the PC possible.

The announcement is primarily about middleware, as IBM is concentrating on delivering new interfaces, as well as the ability to seamlessly link these devices to the back end, so that consumers and mobile workers can access information and conduct business without depending on a PC.

In the interest of promoting voice portal interoperability, the Armonk, N.Y. firm introduced WebSphere Voice Application Access (WVAA) technology, which makes it possible for information on different voice portals to be accessed with one phone call. The new products came out of the outfit’s Pervasive Computing Division, which hawks computing anywhere at anytime through a variety of wireless devices and software.

According to Joe Demassa, IBM’s vice president of marketing for the Pervasive Computing Division, WVAA extends the WebSphere Portal Server framework to voice apps with sample portlets designed to reduce the time for developers to customize voice portals. WVAA also contains e-mail and personal information management (PIM) functions. In the ongoing tradition of adhering to open standards, WVAA supports VoiceXML, and includes Eclipse-based tools. Demassa said industry players supporting WVAA include Nuance and Cisco, as well as independent developers E-Enable, Voxsurf and Viecore. The product will be available Dec. 20.

“There’s been a lot of uptake in pervasive computing,” Demassa told “We’re focused on helping customers realize the return-on-investment opportunities for customers looking to conduct business through non-traditional, mobile devices. Before, there were so many application server vendors — so many platforms. We’re narrowing the field down to lower costs and deliver results faster.”

Big Blue’s Demassa also detailed new versions of IBM tools that extend enterprise applications to the mobile realm. Built entirely from Eclipse, they are WebSphere Studio Device Developer V5.0 (WSDD), which helps developers in the creation and management of J2ME applications for such mobile gadgets as cell phones, PDAs, and handheld computers.

IBM is also buying into the purported future success of telematics — particularly for the back-end areas including diagnostics and maintenance. Demassa said WebSphere Everyplace Software for Telematics is software for building, testing and deploying telematics applications that allow automotive suppliers to produce features such as voice command and control; remote diagnostics, maintenance, security, traffic alerts and messaging.

Lastly on the middleware front, the firm unveiled WebSphere Micro Environment 5.0 as the foundation for e-business applications on small mobile devices. Simply, the software combines the portability of J2ME technology with WebSphere.

Rodney Adkins, general manager of IBM’s Pervasive Computing Division summed up the impetus behind IBM’s pervasive push as such: “The battle to extend the enterprise into the mobile, wireless world will be fought around devices, but the war will be won around the infrastructure. Because we’re talking about handling hundreds and thousands of complex transactions simultaneously, what’s behind the scenes will be equally, if not more, important as the devices themselves.”

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