wireless email middleware from Ericsson

Rohit Khare (khare@www10.w3.org)
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 13:02:11 -0500

[RK: this is a leading indicator of the kind of 'smart proxy' technology
which needs to emerge between clients and servers. The EVO box sitting at
headquarters is the right place to add ever-more sources of information,
rules processing,and bandwidth management/prioritization. It's good to see
'obvious' thinking about how messaging should be opaque to choices of
wireless, wireline, or LAN; but also agressively adapted for each medium
(interrup-restart, headers-only, priority 'push' delivery).

Now someone explain how a cellphone manufacturer stole a march on the
hundreds of firms which are *supposed* to be working in this area? :-]

Messaging middleware

`Exchange' messages in thin air with Ericsson Virtual Office

Wireless solution provides alternative to typical cellular connections when
working from the road

By Victor R. Garza
Administrators planning to roll out a wireless e-mail solution may want to
take a look at Ericsson Virtual Office (EVO), which is due to ship by the
end of this quarter. It offers an interesting alternative to traditional
cellular connectivity by providing extra wireless-connectivity options.

This version of EVO will offer more wireless connections to Microsoft
Exchange and Messaging API than its predecessor. In addition, the beta of
EVO supports ODBC for access to corporate BackOffice databases with
pre-fetching to speed up queries.

Although I wouldn't want to use a slow wireless connection for a large SQL
query, being able to connect to the corporate data repository while on the
road is appealing. (Support for file access through Windows 95 Explorer is
due midyear.)

EVO currently supports only Ram Mobile Data's packet-switched Mobitex
wireless service, but the product will support cellular digital packet
data, analog cellular, and Global System for Mobile Communications when it
ships this first quarter.

As messaging middleware, EVO sits between a Windows NT server and your
chosen wireless service to "push" messages to mobile clients. In a manner
that is similar to rules in e-mail, the EVO server filters and pushes
e-mail messages or headers out to mobile users.

EVO also estimates how long a message will take to download or upload based
on file size and current throughput statistics.

The wireless connection using Mobitex was fast and simple. While I was
working on a laptop computer, EVO uploaded and downloaded e-mail messages
in the background.

Why not cellular?

Although this wireless service sounds like a great idea, I questioned why I
couldn't just as easily connect with a cellular phone and a cellular modem
at seemingly higher speeds.

The answer is twofold. First, once a user logs in to an NT server via an
EVO server, the Ericsson product spoofs the client so that the NT server
maintains a live connection. This saves users from having to log in
multiple times.

Second, the EVO server also creates a compressed, DES-encrypted connection
to the client to enhance throughput. Because EVO is not bound to the "pull"
model that a traditional cellular or land line-based user is accustomed to,
the Notifier client software will receive messages anytime it's running.

In addition to wireless networks, EVO supports dial-up and TCP/IP
connections. Because EVO is transparent to the e-mail or ODBC application,
you can switch network types (packet, cell, land line, or LAN) on the fly.

The EVO client is flexible and robust when it comes to bad connections. For
example, entering a tunnel or going out of a service area would disconnect
a cellular connection session. With EVO, the server retries for a
predefined or user-customizable period of time before ending the message

Once reconnected, EVO will retransmit the message that was in progress at
the time the connection was lost. (Ericsson plans to release by midyear a
feature that will allow EVO to retransmit an interrupted message at the
point of failure.)

Setting up the service

To install the product on a network, you connect the EVO server to the NT
domain, set rights, choose message thresholds (such as file size and
attachments), and select a wireless service. EVO installs as a service
under NT with Perfmon statistics, allowing you to administer and manage
clients with standard NT tools and security.

For the client installation, you install a small component to Exchange, the
EVO wireless service connection program, and a wireless modem.

EVO appears to be a stable solution for those organizations that need to
provide a mobile workforce with e-mail and database connectivity at a
reasonable price.

Victor R. Garza (victor_garza@infoworld.com) is an analyst at the InfoWorld
Test Center. He specializes in telecommunications technologies.



Ericsson Virtual Office, Version R2A, beta

This is a stable, wireless solution for those needing Microsoft BackOffice
database connectivity and access to Exchange e-mail while out of the

Pros: Wireless connectivity to Messaging API-compliant e-mail and
ODBC-compliant databases without additional application development;
continuous connection to main-office communications and information.

Cons: Wireless medium perhaps too slow for large database queries.

Ericsson Inc., Radio Systems, Wireless Data, and Paging Systems, Totowa,
N.J.; (201) 890-3600; fax: (201) 256-8768; http://www.ericsson.com/.

Price: Server: $600: Client: $119, or free when purchased with Ericsson
modem; 10 client seats: $700; 50 client seats: $3,000; 200 client seats:
$10,000 (site-license prices are with Ericsson modem purchase).

Platforms: Server: Windows NT 3.51 or 4.0; Client: Windows NT 4.0 or
Windows 95.

Ship date: End of first quarter.