January 28, 2006
 

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Posted: 05.01.05

Newsworthy

Breaking news to 23 million readers in more than 190 countries, Newsweek needed a mobile solution that could keep pace.
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By Jay Fisher




Who doesn’t take the ease and simplicity of e-mail communication for granted these days? The delivery of reliable, real-time e-mail to mobile devices, however, isn’t quite as effortless.

What if you also want up-to-the moment mobile access to scheduling information, contacts and corporate data—data that are resident on application servers at your enterprise? And what if your enterprise population uses a host of different mobile devices, platforms and carriers?
Employees at that bulwark of American news publications, Newsweek, were stumbling over this morass of intersecting technologies. Many carried bulky laptops in the field, solely for the purpose of checking e-mail, and were having to confront all the usual difficulties with viruses and finding remote network connections. Others purchased mobile devices on their own to receive forwarded e-mail, which are sometimes prone to looping e-mail messages (a device and server caught in an endless back and forth of automated responses), inadvertent e-mail flooding and eventual blacklisting of the associated e-mail address.

Even with this provisional connection to e-mail, Newsweek employees still had no access to other corporate data applications.

Of course, the need for mobile access to e-mail, PIM and corporate data is crucial for a weekly news publication with 12 editions, 20 offices around the world and a readership of 23 million. Newsweek not only relies on editors, reporters and stringers dispersed nationally and internationally to gather the raw news necessary for its weekly publication, but it also has a significant advertising sales force deployed in the field.

According to Leonard Carella, VP and chief technology officer of Newsweek, the need for mobile communication is especially crucial at the close of the magazine. “Our close is a Saturday, so you’re looking at from Friday night all the way into Sunday morning. People are dispersed, they’re all over the place.”

So Newsweek turned to JP Mobile’s SureWave Mobile Office push e-mail/PIM and corporate data solution. JP Mobile produces a set of mobility products based on its SureWave Mobile Platform. The platform provides an underlying IP push functionality, which integrates out of the box with the
most common e-mail and PIM solutions—IBM Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise—as well as having the capacity to integrate with CRM, sales force automation and other specialized corporate data applications.

According to Raghu Boinapalli, JP Mobile’s director of product development, as long as an enterprise application has a server with a database and a corresponding client application on a mobile device, SureWave Mobile Office can sort the data on the server and push it out to the device. The basic setup for integrating IP push into any corporate data application is part of SureWave Mobile Office, says Boinapalli. “The whole mechanism is already there.”
The value of IP push cannot be understated. It enables continuous, up-to-the-moment synchronization between enterprise-based data servers and associated client applications on mobile devices. JP Mobile’s push agent accomplishes this by sending the device’s IP address to the SureWave Mobile Platform server at regular intervals—in this case, over Sprint’s PCS Network. The server can then
contact the device and initiate synchronization whenever it needs to.

Without push technology, a server cannot guarantee delivery of information to the devices with which it operates. Even where delivery occurs, it may not occur in real time. And again, there’s the risk, with forwarding systems, of e-mail looping and flooding.

Today, executives at Newsweek enjoy real-time e-mail delivery to their mobile devices. “We’ve probably replaced 25 Palm Pilots and 25 cell phones with 25 Treos or Samsung i500s or some other Palm OS smart device,” says Newsweek’s Carella.

The Push for Real-Time

Newsweek plans to extend the functionality of its SureWave Mobile Office server to devices used by its sales team and reporters. This will give the magazine’s sales team real-time mobile synchronization with its Sales Track CRM system. Reporters and editors will have up-to-the moment interaction through Newsweek’s TeamBase editorial content management system.

Newsweek also plans to begin exploiting SureWave Mobile Office’s capacity to operate independent of carriers to wirelessly deploy its client application to mobile devices in the field. “The over-air deployment will be very big for us, because we’d like to be able to do this internationally as well,” Carella explains. “Right now we really have no way of doing that.” But with SureWave Mobile Office wireless deployment, reporters in other countries and on varying
carriers can be up and running in minutes, with quick access to Newsweek e-mail and TeamBase.

The magazine is also considering the benefits of additional security functions. Though SureWave Mobile Office includes many crucial end-to-end security features (authentication, AES encrypted data transfer, a behind-the-firewall server), SureWave Mobile Defense, which works in tandem with Mobile Office or can be used separately, wirelessly deploys enterprise security policies, device lock control, remote reset, device use control (microphones, storage devices, Bluetooth) and the bit-wiping bombs used to ensure the security of corporate data on lost, stolen or discarded mobile devices.

In the end, the flexibility and variety of options built around JP Mobile’s IP push solution made it stand out to Newsweek. It is carrier, device and platform independent, and the security functions it employs are used by the Marine Corps, the FBI, the White House, NASA and others who demand the highest standards. According to Dewaine Miller, JP Mobile’s VP of marketing, the SureWave products offer a “fully integrated e-mail/PIM solution and on-device security solution.”

As far as the bottom line goes, Newsweek is saving on the cost of laptops formerly used to perform the functions that SureWave now makes possible on smartphones. Newsweek’s Carella says support of these types of devices through SureWave’s Web-based administrative console is also much simpler. And Newsweek finds its work population better connected. According to Carella, “I get people all the time telling me how much easier it is now just to stay in contact.” Which is some rare good news. •



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