Sybase, HTC Bet on Windows Mobile Devices

IAnywhere Solutions Inc. has announced a partnership with High Tech Computer Corp. that could help smart phones based on Windows Mobile compete more effectively with the BlackBerry, according to an iAnywhere executive.

IAnywhere, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc., has started to work with the Taiwanese contract manufacturer during the design stage of its products, to ensure that iAnywhere's suite of management and security software, called Information Anywhere, runs smoothly on new devices when they are released.

HTC makes most of the smart phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile, which are then sold under other brands. Information Anywhere is widely used by companies to manage and secure mobile devices for employees.

Interoperability between the companies' products hasn't always been seamless, however. HTC has been releasing new devices at a fast clip, and iAnywhere hasn't always been able to test and certify its software on the devices quickly enough, admitted Rob Veitch, iAnywhere's senior director of business development.

That means some companies experience glitches when they install iAnywhere's software on new devices from HTC. Two weeks ago, one of iAnywhere's customers in Germany, an auto manufacturer, rolled out new HTC products that included some updated APIs (application programming interfaces) and ran into a problem because iAnywhere's software didn't work properly with the new interfaces, Veitch said.

The new partnership aims to clear up such problems. IAnywhere is now testing its software on HTC's devices before they are released, and working more closely together means the companies can address customers' problems more quickly. The issue at the German auto maker was resolved in a couple of days, according to Veitch.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) doesn't face such compatibility problems because it develops both the software for its products and the devices themselves, Veitch noted. The same could be said of Apple Inc., which designs both the hardware and software for its new iPhone.

"They leverage the advantage of being both the software and the device maker to build a tremendous email appliance, indisputably the best," he said of RIM. "So our goal (with the HTC partnership) is to bring that appliance-like performance not only to our email solution running on those devices, but also to our management and security software."

There's been a "huge surge" of interest in Windows Mobile in the past year, thanks largely to the introduction of Windows Mobile 5 in 2005, according to Veitch. "It got close enough to being right that it started to give appliance makers like RIM some competition," he said.

As a result, the proportion of iAnywhere customers using HTC devices has shot up to about half, from a small percentage two years ago, Veitch said. If the partnership with HTC goes well he sees big opportunities for HTC and Windows Mobile, as companies roll out more applications than just e-mail on the devices.

Separately Tuesday, iAnywhere also announced that it has certified its products to run on virtualization software from VMware Inc. and Microsoft. The technology lets companies divide a single server into several logical partitions to make better use of its resources.

Customers had been asking for the virtualization support to help with server consolidation efforts, although the technology can also increase the performance of iAnywhere's server software, according to Veitch.

"Some of the performance limitations you run into are related to operating system issues such as memory bounding. By running two virtual machines on one box we got a significant increase in performance," he said.