Mobile Infrastructure Suite Debuts

Solution aims to give mobile users access to enterprise applications through handheld devices

Las Vegas  October 16, 2002  Mobility solutions specialist Zeosoft today rolled out its mobile infrastructure software suite, promising to give mobile users access to the power of enterprise applications through handheld computing devices.

Zeosoft describes its ZeoSphere 1.5 suite as an enterprise wireless decision-flow solution. The suite essentially turns wireless handhelds into application servers, extending backend enterprise systems out to the devices without the cost and complexity of implementing a wireless enterprise solution or the need for back-office equipment and integration, according to the solution provider.

"ZeoSphere is helping organizations transition from the traditional 'erector set' approach  requiring the integration of multiple point solutions from different vendors  to a single environment that can be deployed over a handheld network," said E. Michael Huestis, president and chief technology officer of Zeosoft.

The solution could have applicability, for example, in distributed inventory management for supply chains or in field force automation. In an interview, Huestis distinguished his company's offering from a wireless or general workflow solution that merely routes documents for signatures. Rather, he said, ZeoSphere allows mobile users to work with enterprise systems more interactively.

"Instead of passing a purchase order from place to place for signatures, we will alert individuals that a purchase order has been placed, match the signature requirements against the role and rules associated with the given individuals that have been contacted, and accumulate electronic signatures for approval automatically," Huestis explained. When the solution can't reach the people with the appropriate signature authority, it will attempt to contact alternative signers proactively.

The payback, ZeoSphere says, comes in lower total cost of ownership for the development and deployment of wireless strategies through the use of a standards-based environment that reduces the need for integration, maintenance and overhead.

The complete suite of available ZeoSphere 1.5 software consists of a mobile application server, as well as developer and administrative toolsets. Zeosoft offers additional components that integrate with ZeoSphere, including a connector to J2EE compliant application servers, an integrated rules and inference engine, and enterprise decision flow products. ZeoSphere Server resides directly on mobile devices for direct device-to-device queries and application requests, offering peer-to-peer as well as peer-to-enterprise computing capabilities.

ZeoSphere Enterprise Edition offers application development, deployment and management environment for enterprise mobility solutions. The Enterprise Edition provides a component-based platform, built using J2EE standards and CORBA distributed object technology, to develop solutions for connectivity, including from legacy systems to mobile devices.

The developer edition of the solution offers an application development environment designed for developers to build, test and fine-tune mobility applications prior to full enterprise deployment. It provides the same standards-based tools found in the Enterprise Edition, as well as a limited number of ZeoSphere Server run-time licenses for the purpose of deploying pilots and proofs of concept.

Additional products available include Enterprise Connector, allowing data sharing and processing bi-directionally between the ZeoSphere Server and various J2EE enterprise application servers, and ZeoFusion Enterprise Decision Flow, a developer's framework for wireless workflow, enabling distributed processing and decision-based workflow across the enterprise.

Huestis notes that Zeosoft is offering a set of development tools rather than ready-made solutions for addressing particular supply chain or other tasks.

The solution provider has yet to announce a customer for the solution, although Huestis says that the company has been speaking with a number of enterprises interested in developing highly customized solutions based on Zeosoft's technology.

Privately funded Zeosoft is an 18-month-old, 24-person operation with headquarters in Tampa, Fla, offices in Arizona and New Jersey, and staff scattered about other North American cities. With such a dispersed staff, Huestis joked, "We've been accused of developing this architecture and mobility platform just so we can talk."

For a look at how wireless technologies are transforming the service and support chain, see "In the Field and All Grown Up," the Net Best Thing column in the June/July 2002 issue of iSource Business.