To get users online with wireless mobile access to your corporate Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, you need to assemble a few pieces of hardware and software. This parts list will give you an idea of where to start.

Pocket PC 2002 Device
Both the OS and the new Microsoft ActiveSync 3.5 software that ships with Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 devices are enhanced for native wireless support. Several devices, including Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PC H3850 and iPAQ Pocket PC H3870, use Pocket PC 2002; earlier iPAQ generations are upgradable to Pocket PC 2002. However, I've always been a big fan of Hewlett-Packard (HP) hardware, so I prefer the HP Jornada 568, which costs about $650.

Bluetooth- and General Packet Radio Service—Enabled Mobile Phone
Users will need a Bluetooth- and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)—enabled cell phone. GPRS offers higher data speeds (e.g., 50Kbps) than a traditional dial-up connection, which usually is limited to 19.2Kbps. Many carriers are upgrading Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) networks to GPRS (US carriers such as VoiceStream already offer GPRS service; current European carriers include Vodafone and T-Mobile). US trials of new 1XRTT and other Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) technologies, which purportedly offer DSL-level communications speeds starting at 144Kbps and planned to approach 384Kbps, are already in process. GPRS also offers simultaneous data and voice sessions.

You have a choice of compatible cell phones and data services, depending on the type of performance you want and how much you want to spend. A typical GPRS/Bluetooth phone costs about $300. One of the first cell phones to offer GSM, GPRS, infrared (IR), and Bluetooth capabilities is the Ericsson T39. (For the setup I describe in this article, I used a Sony Ericsson T68, which costs about $600 and has a color screen and more processing power.) Your data service can be a direct LAN cable, Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) modem, or wireless LAN (WLAN). I've found the fastest and easiest (although not the least expensive) setup to be a Bluetooth modem with a Bluetooth/GPRS phone. This setup works in nearly every metropolitan area. I use VoiceStream, which offers fairly good metro GPRS coverage across the United States for about $19.95 per month for as much as 5Mb of traffic.

Another consideration when choosing a phone is the accompanying PC software. The Ericsson T39 comes with Extended Systems' XTNDConnect PC, which synchronizes personal information manager (PIM) data. The T39's Ericsson Phone Settings software provides one GUI on which you make configuration settings. (This software also works on the T68.) The single GUI simplifies setup.

Bluetooth Modem
Some new Pocket PCs (e.g., the iPAQ Pocket PC H3870) have built-in Bluetooth radio transceivers. If the devices your company uses don't have this capability, you need to purchase a Bluetooth modem card for each device to provide connectivity between the Pocket PC and the GPRS/Bluetooth phone. Socket Communications builds a Pocket PC—compatible CompactFlash (CF) Type I card, which costs about $150.

Mobile Information Server 2002, Enterprise Edition; Win2K SP2; and Exchange 2000 SP1
Microsoft Mobile Information Server 2002, Enterprise Edition (which runs on a Windows 2000 Service Pack 2—SP2—system) is a point-release upgrade to Mobile Information Server 2001. Other than basic feature enhancements and security improvements, the new version's primary purpose is to provide over-the-air Exchange 2000 SP1 synchronization with Pocket PC 2002 devices. This functionality differs from the earlier Microsoft Outlook synchronization capabilities with which you might be familiar: Instead of the Pocket PC synchronizing data with a PC's local Outlook store, data syncs directly with the Exchange server, thus removing the Pocket PC's dependency on a desktop PC. Mobile Information Server also includes Outlook Mobile Access, an online Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)—browsing application for Exchange 2000 (similar to Outlook Web Access—OWA—but designed for use with mobile phones). With a native WAP browser such as EZOS's EzWAP on their Pocket PCs, users can log on to Mobile Information Server and get quick access to historical (i.e., nonsynchronized) Exchange data, browse the Global Address List (GAL) for contact information, and send real-time messages.

Mobile Information Server supports Outlook Mobile Access for browsing Exchange Server 5.5, but synchronization works only with Exchange 2000. Also, Mobile Information Server stores user preferences in Active Directory (AD), so your network needs at least one Win2K AD server to support mobile user access.

ISA Server 2000 (Optional)
Your security needs dictate which firewalls and network topology you use with Mobile Information Server. Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000 is designed for use as a network edge server, which is a single-function firewall, Web server, or other server that's at the outer boundary of the network—usually inside or at the edge of the demilitarized zone (DMZ)—and separated from all other application and resource servers. This design lets the server function as a mobile-access firewall, providing user authentication and data encryption for mobile users. However, most corporate network administrators require additional levels of protection. In that case, you can install specific Mobile Information Server Internet Server API (ISAPI) filters on an outward-facing ISA Server to tunnel mobile traffic through the firewall over the same ports you've opened for general Internet access.