Getting Web Services on the Go

Aug 27, 2002

Clint Boulton

In evidence that Web services are beginning to permeate IT segments beyond the network and PC, Palm's hardware unit Tuesday said it is looking to use BEA Systems' expertise to bring Web services to its handhelds.

In the agreement, for which financial terms were not revealed, Palm will make software tools to simplify development and deployment of mobile Web services to extend enterprise applications on its handhelds. The outfit will then work with BEA to integrate this solution with BEA WebLogic Server 7.0 and BEA WebLogic Workshop products, making it the first WebLogic Workshop control developed for a handheld device.

The driving technology behind this arrangement actually comes from Palm, which will lend its new Reliable Transport technology to provide a secure platform for sending XML data back and forth between the server and Palm handhelds. The software will be designed to allow Palm developers to use BEA WebLogic Workshop as the server-side programming framework. In turn, WebLogic Workshop developers may utilize Reliable Transport to send messages to and from Palm handhelds.

With this, the firms hope that developers will create new types of Palm applications that can directly interface into back-end business logic through the use of open-standards.

While BEA Systems WebLogic server has received accolades from Web services experts, Palm is aiming to prove that its products are the obvious choice in the handheld market over such competitors as Handspring and Microsoft. Attaching itself to the burgeoning Web services market -- an area where many analysts believe more intelligent Internet computing will come to fruition -- is one way to do this.

Because Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palm is the leading handheld maker and operating system provider for mobile devices, the long-term partnership affirms San Jose, Calif.-based BEA's expertise in the snowballing Web services arena.

Palm Solutions Group President and COO Todd Bradley attested to BEA's pedigree in a public statement.

"We believe mobility will be a key driver for successful businesses in the future," Bradley said. "We are particularly attracted to BEA because of its commitment to industry standards and its strong track record of innovation."

The timing of this agrrement would seem to bode well, as most analysts state that various Web services segments will amount to billions of dollars to be made by 2006. While 2001 was the worst year in a while for handhelds, IDC said smart mobile device sales will grow 13 percent by 2002's end.

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IDC explained its research: "Propelled by brightening economic conditions, the wireless evolution, new device technologies, increased enterprise device adoption, and the centrality of partnerships, pen-based handhelds -- the majority based on Palmsource, Inc.'s Palm OS and Microsoft's Pocket PC OS -- continue to drive shipment volume in the traditional data-centric device world."


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