IBM bolsters database for handhelds

IBM Corp. is extending its DB2 Everyplace database for handheld devices by adapting it for .Net development and offering a special version for small- to mid-sized businesses.

The database commonly is used for embedded applications such as sales force automation and medical and retail systems. It runs on devices such as PalmOS, Pocket PC or Symbian units.

Version 8 of the product, which is shipping on Tuesday, features interfaces to the Microsoft .Net Framework and .Net Compact Framework.These interfaces simplify mobile application development on Windows workstations and servers or Windows mobile devices and Pocket PC systems, according to IBM.

With the latest version, developers now can use Visual Studio .Net to build applications for the database, said Jay Pederson, IBM product manager for mobile computing. “This cuts their development time in half because they can use Visual Studio drag-and-drop” instead of requiring hand-coding, he said.

Additionally, Version 8 features enhanced application development support for Java through bundling of IBM’s J9 Java Virtual Machine, for improved connectivity to Java databases. A new plug-in for IBM’s WebSphere Studio tool helps developers build sophisticated mobile applications for PalmOS and Pocket PC platforms, according to IBM.

Improved application synchronization to mobile devices through IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Access provides customers with a real-time, virtual view of business applications such as e-mail, instant messaging, and enterprise applications, for working when not connected to the network.

IBM with Tuesday’s announcement will include DB2 Everyplace Enterprise with DB2 Universal Database (UDB), the company’s full-fledged server-level database.

A user of DB2 Everyplace said the product has enabled field personnel for a home builder to more easily carry purchase orders. “Instead of all the paper, they have the handheld,” said Barbara Walker, information systems application developer at Fischer Homes. “They can carry it to the job sites instead of carrying three or four different filing cabinets.”

IBM also is introducing a version of the database, DB2 Everyplace Express, for companies with 1,000 employees or fewer. Unlike the Enterprise Edition of DB2 Everyplace, which costs US$15,000 per processor for an unlimited number of users, the Express variant is priced at US$379 per server plus US$79 per user. The Express product’s server component, for synchronizing with the handheld, is not supported on clustered systems and is limited to Windows and Linux.

One analyst said IBM is trying to build its DB2 UDB base by leveraging DB2 Everyplace. “I think the big push for IBM is they’re trying to extend the footprint of their DB2 infrastructure by pushing the mobile component,” said Mark Shainman, senior research analyst at Meta Group Inc.