Until recently, synchronization between a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook has been less than ideal. Suppose you buy a popular 3Com PalmPilot and you want Outlook's server-based information at your fingertips. Many products, such as Chapura's PocketMirror or Puma Technology's Intellisync, enable synchronization but only between your computer and your PalmPilot. But Puma Technology's Intellisync Anywhere solves these products' limitations.
Intellisync Anywhere is the first product for enterprisewide PalmPilot and Exchange Server synchronization (versions for Lotus Domino and for Windows CE devices will be available soon). This software eliminates the need to go back to your computer to synchronize. Instead, you can go to any PalmPilot cradle in your company, press the Synchronize button, and synchronize your PalmPilot. In addition to LAN/WAN connectivity, the software operates over wireless networks.
The product's core architecture is the Intellisync Anywhere server. Although this server can coexist with your Exchange Server machine on one box, Puma Technology discourages this option because it requires you to configure Intellisync Anywhere to start manually. Ideally, the software operates on a dedicated server, which must run Windows NT Server 4.0 with Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 2.0 or later. You also must have the Exchange Server client or Outlook 8.03 or later installed on the server.
Periodically, the Intellisync Anywhere server performs background synchronization with your Exchange Server machines. You need to explain to your users how this synchronization works because when they press the Synchronize button, they're synchronizing with only the Intellisync Anywhere servers—not the Exchange Server machines. Users need to set their expectations accordingly. For example, when I added an appointment in Outlook and pressed the Synchronize button, I was surprised that the appointment didn't immediately appear in my PalmPilot. The appointment didn't immediately appear because the default synchronization between the Intellisync Anywhere server and the Exchange Server machine is 15 minutes. (You can use an administration utility to change the default synchronization.)
When a user initiates a HotSync connection for the first time, the Intellisync Anywhere Desktop software prompts the user for a password. (The software learns the username from the PalmPilot.) If the user enabled autologon, the user provides a username and password the first time and the software stores the logon information on the workstation. In subsequent connections, the software automatically passes logon information to the server.
The server setup was fairly straightforward, but I found one small problem. The software installs only on NT Server 4.0 SP3. The installation will fail with any other NT setup, such as NT Server 4.0 SP5. However, you can download a patch from Puma Technology's Web site to correct this glitch. After I applied the patch, the installation proceeded smoothly.
In addition to the server software, you must install the Intellisync Anywhere Desktop software on every client machine that you want Intellisync Anywhere to run on. You can use your favorite software-distribution product to automate the client installation. In addition, you must install the Intellisync Anywhere Mobile Client software on every PalmPilot that runs the software. The Intellisync Anywhere Mobile Client software requires that you run Palm OS 2.0 or later on your PalmPilot. You can install the software via the Intellisync Anywhere client software.
For security, Puma Technology uses a proprietary security scheme not linked to the NT domain. Therefore, your users need a separate password for Intellisync Anywhere. The product permits an autologon, but automatically logging on stores your Intellisync Anywhere password (albeit encrypted) on any computer you use for synchronization. You can turn the autologon feature on or off, but you must use the same setting for all users.
The software's security is separate from NT domain security, so you must maintain a separate account database. A Web-based administration utility, which Screen 1 shows, or an import utility that comes with the product manages the Intellisync Anywhere account database. The product also enables automatic account creation. When users synchronize for the first time, the product automatically creates an Intellisync Anywhere account for them. One caveat exists: When you use automatic account creation, you must use autologon.
Intellisync Anywhere doesn't officially support Windows 2000 (Win2K), but the server software will install on a Win2K server (using a patch for SP3 or later) and, according to Puma Technology, will operate properly. The Intellisync Anywhere Desktop software ran fine in my tests from a Win2K Professional (Win2K Pro) workstation. But, as with any new product, you need to test this software before you put it into production.
With minimal training, users can synchronize their PalmPilots with a corporate Exchange Server system from anywhere in the enterprise—even from the road. Although this product isn't for every environment, if you have a lot of PalmPilots and you need synchronization anytime or anywhere, Intellisync Anywhere might be the product for you.
| Contact: Puma Technology * 408-321-7650 |
Price: $1795 for 5 users
Pentium 166MHz processor or better, Windows NT Server 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or later, 64MB of RAM, 100MB of hard disk space, plus 4MB per user, Microsoft Outlook or Exchange client, Microsoft Internet Information Server 2.0 or later
NT 4.0 or later or Windows 9x, 10MB of hard disk space, Winsock 2.0 for Win95 (included), Outlook or Exchange client, Palm Desktop 3.0 or later
Any 3Com Palm Computing-compatible device, Palm OS 2.0 or later