Tivoli's Secureway aims at safe mobile devices

IBM subsidiary Tivoli has effectively fitted another piece to the jigsaw of pervasive computing, with the recent news that its...

IBM subsidiary Tivoli has effectively fitted another piece to the jigsaw of pervasive computing, with the recent news that its Secureway Policy Director and Privacy Manager products will support the Wireless Application Protocol (Wap), writes James Rogers

Tivoli's announcement on Secureway, made earlier this month in Madrid, comes just a few months after IBM announced a partnership with Nokia.

For its part, Tivoli has also been busy linking up different pieces of technology.

Following the launch of Tivoli Data Manager (TDM) for retail in October last year, the IBM subsidiary extended TDM to the palm platform of personal digital assistants in March, a bold move aimed at extending corporate availability from the desktop to the handheld device.

David Murphy, Tivoli senior vice-president, says, "The announcement further enhances Tivoli's functionality on Wap devices to ensure that people are only getting the right information."

Murphy also acknowledges that the move is only the latest in a line of pervasive developments. He says, "Think of this as coming up a stack. Our first announcements were about Tivoli extending basic resource management facilities. The next most important thing for a lot of people is to get the security right."

This trend has already been noted by Team Tivoli business partner ECsoft. David Curbishley, senior consultant at ECsoft, says, "Tivoli unveiled its pervasive computing vision earlier this year. This announcement gives a clear rationale of where it is going. With Secureway we can see that Tivoli is moving into solutions for specific problems."

Computer Associates (CA), on the other hand, is building its own pervasive strategy around its successful Unicenter suite of software products. Martin Saunders, enterprise management product manager at CA, explains, "If you look at what we are doing with Unicenter, you will see that it is being used to manage a number of different devices, including such things as Wap servers."

Indeed, pervasive computing was a major focus of the CA-World conference two months ago. The simple fact is that businesses are now looking to link up not just IT devices, but virtually any type of technology found in the enterprise.

In the CA vision, this includes anything from handheld computers to vending machines. Thus, CA used the New Orleans CA-World event in April to unveil its Unicenter TNG Optimal Vending Solution which lets managers perform remote diagnostics and track sales through a wireless interface or power line carrier.

Saunders says, "We are now using Unicenter to manage semi-IT devices, this is because it is so open that we can use it to manage anything."

CA is pitching its eTrust products as the perfect antidote to virus threats such as the recent "I Love You" alert.

"With eTrust all of your security can work with Wap, this means that companies can guard against denial of service attacks and viruses," says Saunders. "People are now starting to say that we can't go on just simply reacting to viruses."

According to Saunders, one of the big benefits of eTrust is that users can set volume limits on trusted addresses and dynamically reconfigure the firewall. This is particularly useful when a surprisingly high number of e-mails suddenly arrive from one source.

Like any emerging technology, pervasive computing is being built on bit-by-bit by suppliers.

Tivoli has already made clear its intentions to partner with Wap device manufacturers and providers whilst IBM and CA are also positioning themselves to win a slice of the market.

Abner Germanow, research manager of Internet security at IDC, says, "Extending the control of information into the Wap environment is a key strategic requirement for any vendor who already helps customers manage a wide range of systems and platforms in the wired world."

It is over three years since IBM chief executive Lou Gerstner described "a billion people interacting with a million e-businesses through a trillion interconnecting intelligent devices", but his vision is fast becoming reality.

At the time, IBM revealed its Websphere Everyplace Suite server software, which it said has been designed to accommodate the specific needs of new devices.

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