• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

M-Business Anywhere from iAnywhere Solutions

Mar 18, 20043 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* The Reviewmeister continues searching for the perfect mobile middleware product

Continuing our search for the perfect mobile middleware product, let’s look at M-Business Anywhere 5.3 Application Edition and SQL Anywhere 9 (including UltraLite, a client-side relational data repository) from iAnywhere Solutions (a subsidiary of Sybase).

This product comes with a server component that renders screen data for display on a mobile device and interacts with back-end servers and the mobile client software that your developers create. Sybase also offers a relational database for use in mobile devices. However, M-Business Anywhere doesn’t offer a visual design environment for building client code: We used CodeWarrior to specify how our handhelds should process the information sent to and from the devices.

M-Business Anywhere is a family of three products. The full-featured M-Business Anywhere Application Edition works with transaction-oriented, data-driven applications that need custom-written mobile device clients.

The moderately capable M-Business Anywhere Web Edition Pro supports non-transaction-based data collection applications on mobile devices. You would use this edition to distribute read-only Web content to mobile devices. Sybase also offers a version of its SQL Anywhere relational database software, called UltraLite, for storing application data directly on the handheld device. UltraLite comes in handy, for example, when you decide it makes sense to store ancillary, read-only application data on the mobile device instead of retrieving the data across the Internet. For our test, we used Application Edition and UltraLite.

On your centrally located servers, M-Business Anywhere runs on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Solaris 2.6 and Red Hat Linux 7.3. Its client component runs on Pocket PC with operating system Version 2000, 2002 or 2003, Palm OS Versions 3.5.2, 3.5.3, 4.X or 5.X and RIM 857 and RIM 957 BlackBerry Wireless Handhelds (although the RIM client supports only M-Business Anywhere Web Edition). IAnywhere Solutions says M-Business Anywhere will support tablet PCs and notebook computers sometime in the first half of this year.

The M-Business Anywhere handheld client operates in offline (disconnected from the Internet) and online (connected) modes. In offline mode, the client retrieves Web pages, forms and database material from an internal cache of saved information, whose size is device-dependent.

In online mode, the client accesses information over the Internet and can take part in real-time transactions. If a client momentarily disconnects from the Internet, the M-Business Anywhere client automatically switches to offline mode. Designing the application to detect the mode switch and behave appropriately (continue working based on just the cached information or notify the user and stop working until the handheld reconnects) is easy. In our tests, the M-Business Anywhere client seamlessly flipped to and from online and offline modes. Furthermore, the handheld’s UltraLite relational database option integrated tightly with M-Business Anywhere’s offline and online mode changes.

The M-Business Anywhere management console is a Web-based tool that lets you add and delete users, add or remove applications from a user’s device, and view usage statistics. To our delight, we could integrate M-Business Anywhere with a Windows Server domain to automatically synchronize users (added or deleted) between the domain and M-Business Anywhere.

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