Data on the Edge
Sybase is a Dublin, Calif.--based independent software vendor that has been building mobile technology solutions for the past 20 years. Since its founding in a Berkeley, Calif., garage in 1984, Sybase has steadily built relationships with more than 2,000 partners, 700 embedded OEM partners and 200,000 developers--and has grown into one of the largest and most recognizable names in mobile software. According to Marty Beard, senior VP of corporate development and marketing, 2005 was a pivotal year for Sybase--the company experienced 4 percent overall growth and 23 percent growth in mobile business. Beard's next objective is to tackle the challenges of "unwired freedom." He hopes that Sybase's line of iAnywhere products will help improve the everyday issues of wireless workers.
Mobile Enterprise: Explain the phrase "unwired enterprise?"
Marty Beard: Our overall strategy is what we like to call the "unwired enterprise." There are two parts to this puzzle: information management in the back office, and mobile management at the "edge office." We have to be able to manage the information in the back office and make sure we're getting it out to the edge office. We're unwiring data that's wired down and connecting it to other data. Then we're prepping the data and freeing it to go out to workers that are unwired from the enterprise, where business really happens.
ME: What do you believe are some of the major challenges facing mobile workers today?
MB: First, companies need to really understand what data their workers will need when they're not sitting at their desks. Security is also a concern: CIOs and IT departments want to make sure that the information is getting to the people it should get to and that it's secure over the air and on the device. Finally, you can't always assume that you have connectivity. Solutions that are always available even though you may not always be connected are really key.
ME: What is Sybase doing to address these issues?
MB: We are continuing to work backward from the end user into the backend systems. What does that sales rep really need? A few years ago, we purchased [mobile access solutions provider] Dejima, which allowed us to deploy natural language processing using a program called Answers Anywhere. So, instead of going through many different screens, sales reps could access necessary information more quickly. SQL Anywhere and M-Business Anywhere, two of our iAnywhere solutions, provide always-available access to data, whether users have a live connection to a network or not. Also, always-available applications preserve device battery life while minimizing connection time and costs. Preventing things like dropped connections, coverage issues and low bandwidth are becoming increasingly important as we move forward.
ME: How is Sybase working to improve security concerns for the enterprise?
MB: When it comes to the security side, it's more than just encrypting data--it's what we call device management--meaning authorization rights that are really controlled by the user. Our Afaria solution manages and secures the content, apps and devices used by mobile workers, and also allows users to delete data remotely if their device is stolen or lost.
ME: What potential challenges do you see facing mobile workers in the future?
MB: I think usage challenges and presentation will continue to be a problem. Everyone got comfortable with mobile email, and now that area is moving into more sophisticated sales information. I think there will also be an ongoing focus on security. We're in a process right now where companies are learning how to become more secure in a mobile environment. //