Symbol bids for star role in WiFi roaming technology

by Guy Kewney | posted on 30 May 2004

A deal between IBM and Symbol is said to "give greater network flexibility" for WiFi to cellular roaming. But it's apparent that Symbol is determined to rival Cisco in the market, with other deals.

Guy Kewney

The interview posted with Symbol CIO John Bruno at Networld Interop laid out some of the ambitions of a company formerly best known for rugged hand-helds, but now a major player in network management.

Key quote: "Wireless is not an extension of the wired network. Wireless is just another ingredient in an enterprise mobility system that provides access to infrastructure. Enterprise mobility is what is happening at the edge, not wireless. Enterprise mobility is CRM [customer relationship management] applications and sales force automation extended to the point of activity. It is about trying to create an enterprise mobility strategy that incorporates a lot of technologies."

And further pointers to Symbol's plans in this eWeek article, suggesting that a new deal with IBM may be just the first of several similar.

Editor Carmen Noble points out that Symbol isn't the only ambitious player here, and "Several top wireless technology developers are teaming up to offer services and products that support a host of advanced applications such as WiFi-to-cellular roaming," listing companies like Avaya and Proxim as well as Symbol and IBM, who "could give enterprises and mobile users alike greater network flexibility and, ultimately, extended range."

Noble says: "Symbol and IBM are working together to bring Symbol's vertical-market expertise to IBM's WebSphere Everyplace and Workplace management software," and suggests other IBM ambitions: the company "is also considering developing automated services that bridge voice and data, officials said. With such services, a customer could call an automated system for airplane flight schedules, make requests through voice prompts and receive a data reply."

Interestingly, Noble reckons IBM also plans "to add push-based e-mail support to its WebSphere software to compete directly against the Research In Motion BlackBerry Enterprise Server."

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