IAnywhere upgrades e-mail access software

A new version of iAnywhere Solutions's mobile e-mail access software is scheduled for this week.

A new version of iAnywhere Solutions's mobile e-mail access software is scheduled for this week.

IAnywhere, a Californian-based subsidiary of Sybase, offers wireless infrastructure software and services. Its e-mail access product, first released in September last year as iAnywhere Mobile Mail, will be renamed with this release as Mail Anywhere Studio.

Mail Anywhere Studio provides direct server synchronisation between mobile devices and enterprise e-mail systems including IBM's Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange, allowing workers to access corporate e-mail through handhelds running Palm, Pocket PC or Symbian operating systems. Available worldwide, the software can run on its own but is most often deployed as part of iAnywhere's m-Business Platform suite of software for enabling mobile access to corporate data and applications.

Mail Anywhere Studio's one-time licensing fee starts at about $100 (£68) per user, with volume discounts and support and upgrade plans available.

IAnywhere's focus in designing the upgrade was on improving the productivity of mobile workers and simplifying administration tasks, said Tina Lorentz, iAnywhere's director of business development.

In the software's first release, users had to manually initiate each synchronisation between a handheld device and the corporate e-mail system. The new version allows users to schedule automatic synchronisations. Those using Palm's new i705 handheld, which offers an "always on" wireless connection, can remain permanently connected to their e-mail.

Also new in the software is a "client profiles" feature enabling users to construct multiple sets of parameters for when and how their information should be synched, and Palm OS support for viewing e-mail attachments, which previously was possible only on Pocket PC devices.

On the administration side, Mail Anywhere Studio now can remotely generate system activity reports and send wireless alerts on system events such as malfunctions.

Two industry analysts said the market for mobile e-mail access software is still nascent and no clear leaders or markedly superior products have emerged. IAnywhere has a solid product and a high profile, they said.

"It's such an immature market. But iAnywhere has a strong position because (iAnywhere parent) Sybase's mobile database has a very large share of its market. It creates a ready base of users," said Warren Wilson, practice director of Summit Strategies' mobile and wireless research.

"I think it is a strong product. IAnywhere has done a good job of examining the various usage scenarios that customers will come across and designing a product around those," he said.

Software such as the Mail Anywhere Studio is good bait, drawing customers to whom iAnywhere and Sybase can later sell additional, complementary products, said Meta Group vice-president Jack Gold.

"It's important for a company like Sybase to enter the enterprise market via e-mail. It's a good way for them to get a toe in the water," he said.

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