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E-BUSINESS PULSE: Got your crystal ball?

E-BUSINESS PULSE: Got your crystal ball?

As the world, the nation, and business enterprises face some pretty big issues following September 11, wirelessly enabling your mobile sales or field force may seem like small potatoes in comparison. You might want to do it, but you don't want the process to create additional problems.

In that light, it is worth taking a look at a new solution to access corporate data over a wireless network about to be offered by network operator Cingular.

Xpress Mail is the first of a planned rollout of services that will include access to both line-of-business as well as vertical applications with no additional software or hardware needed behind the firewall. Non-intrusive access to the corporate network is part of the reason why Cingular's solutions will have appeal. They have the potential to get the job done as quickly and as quietly as you like.

Here's how it works: Cingular sets up an SSL (secure sockets layer) tunnel or a full VPN between its network and the corporate network. Installed on the Cingular network are a suite of applications from Seven Networks (www.seven.com) Seven then becomes the two-way proxy between the corporate network and the wireless operator. Without having to add any software to the corporate network, Seven renders an emulation of, say, Outlook to the client.

Seven will also allow Cingular to give its business customers virtual access inside its phone network. For example, users will have the ability to see which phones are being activated and who is using the phone.

"All the management [data] that Cingular keeps as a matter of course is now available for any IT manager at a company to look at," said Bill Nguyen, founder and president of Seven.

If someone loses a handset or handheld, the manager can enter that phone number and deactivate it.

The Seven applications give managers the ability to set up self-provisioning and self-care applications for users as well as to add or change services.

Imagine tracking your package not by the day it arrived in the depot nearest you, but by how far the delivery truck is from your home or office. Now that's a service.

I don't think a middleware provider can come close to offering these kinds of network management features. Perhaps the network providers have an unfair advantage, but let's just call it a competitive edge.

Offer Ephraim your thoughts at ephraim_schwartz@infoworld.com


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