BEA, Palm partner on Web services for handhelds

Palm Inc. and BEA Systems Inc. on Tuesday will announce plans to boost development of Web services-based applications for Palm handheld devices.

The plan melds Palm’s Reliable Transport infrastructure technology with the BEA WebLogic Server 7.0, BEA’s J2EE-based application server platform. Developers, the vendors said, will be able to build Palm applications that can either be wireless or downloaded via a Palm cradle to interface to back-end business logic.

“The goal is for the first time to really bring enterprise data and Web services to the Palm handheld based on the BEA platform and to continue to provide the flexibility the enterprise needs in working with (its) application server of choice,” said Judy Kirkpatrick, vice-president of strategic alliances at Palm.

Through the partnership, a BEA WebLogic Workshop component called a control will be developed to bridge WebLogic to the Palm, according to Chris Morgan, Palm director of strategic alliances.

Palm’s Reliable Transport technology will be deployed to take care of low-level communications between the applications server and the handheld, Morgan said. Reliable Transport supports protocols such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

Web services will be deployed with Reliable Transport to move XML (Extensible Markup Language) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) messages back and forth between the application server and device, said Morgan.

“This [technology] allows structured data to move from the server to the Palm, and it’s executed typically in a Java environment or a C++ environment from the Palm,” Morgan said.

To run applications, the Palm client will require the Reliable Transport technology, an XML parser, SOAP engine and, to run Java code, a Java Virtual machine from PalmSource Inc. The Palm control resides on the application server.

The Palm-BEA arrangement will enable a single application to be developed for both the Palm and the server, Morgan said. “Right now, to do this, [developers] would have to do all the business logic in the BEA server. Today, they would then have to write a completely different application for the Palm,” he said.

Applications such as travel or expense reports could be deployed on the Palm via the arrangement between the companies, according to Morgan.

A beta release of the BEA-Palm software combination is due in late-2002, with general availability planned for the first quarter of 2003.

The two companies at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in March had demonstrated J2ME solutions, in which Palm endorsed the BEA WebLogic Workshop development framework for building enterprise-class Web services.

Palm’s Reliable Transport for Mobile Applications is a backbone architecture to provide security, reliability and multinetwork support across transaction architectures, the companies said. The architecture accepts requests for transactions and determines how to transmit them. Resident on both the client and server side of an application, the architecture leverages technology from the Palm Wireless Database Access Server and Wireless Messaging Solution.

BEA did not make a spokesperson available for comment on Monday.

Palm and IBM Corp. in July announced an arrangement to enable IBM WebSphere applications to be delivered to Palm devices.