Palm Talks Up Next OS, New Deals With IBM, Novell


David Nagel, president and CEO of PalmSource, gave a glimpse into Sahara, the next version of its mobile operating system platform, and unveiled partnerships with IBM and Novell at the CeBit conference here.

The Sahara platform, which will be the sixth version of the Palm operating system, is in the alpha stage and is based on what PalmSource is calling its new mobile business architecture (MBA). MBA includes a mobile security framework, mobile messaging framework, mobile information framework and mobile management framework.

The security framework includes pluggable cryptography and code licensed from RSA, among other features. As reported by CRN in May, OS 6 is expected to be released by the end of this year. The new OS is part of PalmSource's play to target business customers, particularly corporate enterprise end users. (See story.)

Security is built in from the "bottom up" in the new OS, as customers continue to question the vulnerability of data on mobile devices, said Nagel. A survey by PalmSource of corporate end users found that data security was second only to compatibility with Microsoft Office as far as the top features desired in corporate handhelds, he said.

"I had one customer say to me, 'here's a $250 devices, but it has $250 million worth of data on it. What are you doing to protect that data?' " he said.

To that end, PalmSource has filed for FIPS certification, a government security certification, and partnered with Novell to introduce handheld management tools. One of the features is the ability to delete data on a handheld device or lock down the device should a user lose it.

As part of the relationship, PalmSource is making available Nexic's Synchronis technology for GroupWise to all Palm OS licensees. The solution lets users synchronize and use GroupWise seamlessly on their Palm-powered devices.

PalmSource and Novell are also working with NotifyLink to introduce the company's wireless e-mail solution to Palm-powered devices. Notify's technology provides secure realtime synchronization and push notification between GroupWise and wireless Palm-powered devices to licensees of the Palm OS.

Novell's Nterprise solution, which includes GroupWise and Zenworks, is now a preferred enterprise solutions suite for PalmSource, while PalmSource's OS is a preferred handheld platform for use with both GroupWise and Zenworks, according to Novell executives.

"I believe PalmSource has been the leading mobile OS platform and the right partner for us to drive our collaboration and management solutions beyond the desktop and out to devices," said Chris Stone, vice chairman of Novell. "We're not just talking putting a client like Outlook on a device, but centrally managing and securing that device and data.

Stone said a quarter-million mobile devices are left in airports per year, leaving data at risk. "We need to manage the proliferation of these devices," Stone said

PalmSource is also starting to support the emerging field of Web services via a relationship with IBM. The duo is developing a Web services toolkit for mobile devices.

"We are creating this tool for the 270,000 folks working on top of the Palm platform, and we'll work with other ISVs and tool vendors in this area to create Web services such as enterprise applications that run on small devices," Nagel said.

IBM and Palm Solutions Group, Palm's hardware division, announced earlier in June that Palm will integrate and ship IBM WebSphere Micro Environment, a wireless Java application development platform, with its Palm Tungsten handheld devices.

Also during the keynote, Handspring, which Palm Solution Group is in the process of acquiring, said it is updating its line of smartphones with the Treo 600. The Treo 600 series combine a phone and a Palm OS 5-based organizer with messaging, e-mail and Web-browsing features.

As previously reported in CRN, The Treo 600 promises a longer battery life and an SD expansion slot. The device, which is smaller than its predecessor, also includes a built-in camera, which has been popular with consumers in phones and handhelds.

The first Treo 600 products are expected this fall worldwide. Handspring is already customizing Treo 600s for Sprint and Orange, a European carrier, and other service providers are expected to sign on, said Calin Pacurariu, director of GSM products and developer solutions at Handspring.

Visto, a mobile-access solution provider, also announced that it is working with PalmSource create an e-mail messaging client for the Palm OS platform.

PalmSource announced last month that it has licensed the Research In Motion e-mail platform for use on Palm-powered devices.