Remember Integrating Desktops? Multiply The Pain By 10 - InformationWeek

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Remember Integrating Desktops? Multiply The Pain By 10

IT silverbacks will no doubt remember how fun it was to integrateall the desktop computers people were bringing to the office during the PC revolution. Now they're watching the same process unfold as companies deal with palmtops tying into corporate databases.

By 2004, according to a Gartner report, 70% of new mobile phones and 40% of new PDAs will have direct access to Web content and corporate networks. The kicker is that the PC revolution was pretty much limited to PCs and Macs. The heterogeneity of palmtop hardware, software, and standards will make the previous management struggle look like kids' play.

Gartner analyst Phillip Redman says old-line software vendors such as Computer Associates are jumping into the fray against third-party incumbents such as AlterEgo Networks Inc. and Aether Systems Inc. "Vendors that haven't had wireless as a top priority from the beginning may not have management tools as compelling" as the early risers, Redman says.

Mark Plakias, a Kelsey Group analyst, says most third-party vendors are tied to XML as the primary wireless-content driver. But XML is just one of many avenues, and CA, Tivoli Systems, and others can build products that go beyond that it. None of the integrations is "Herculean on their own, but by the time you add up all the different wireless integrations, management becomes a serious issue."

Plakias says large middleware vendors may have the key. Once these vendors look beyond the device problems and get above baseline tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, they can tackle taking back-end E-business processes. "Then a company's wireless strategy can shift from device handling and content management to true applications and database integration, and that's what companies like CA have to offer."

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