Accommodating Embedded Devices

Arthur Cole

The growth of embedded network and handheld devices is increasing many enterprise managers' concerns over not just security, but data management and network optimization as well. Exactly how are centralized network systems supposed to deal with a plethora of new data formats, communications protocols and operating systems that new devices demand?


The confusion is most pronounced when it comes to new consumer devices. Gartner recently released two simultaneous reports, one touting the benefits of embracing new devices as a means to foster innovation and experimentation among employees, while the other cautions against the iPhone because it could gum up your network.


Still, network management platforms are continuing to expand their collective reach to cover not only the traditional embeds like routers and printers, but an ever widening array of switches, handheld computers, PDAs and the like.


If you're running a Windows network, you'll soon have new tools in the Windows Embedded platform to tap into Active Directory and other systems to foster greater integration with PC- and server-based services. Among some of the updates that Softies are talking about are new IE7 and Vista capabilities to XP Embedded, plus a new RDP (remote desktop protocol) client. Similar moves are planned for Windows CE and the related Windows Mobile.


.NET is also coming on strong as the architecture of choice for embedded and edge devices. One of the latest developments is from Recursion Software, which has added JBoss Messaging to its Voyager Edge 6.1 intelligent agent platform. With the ability to bridge JBoss Messaging with Java Message Service (JMS) and Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ), enterprises will be able to quickly add and drop a range of wired and wireless devices to the enterprise.


While expanding the network's ability to accommodate multiple device formats is commendable, some are calling for a more uniform means of ensuring device interoperability. Solidcore Systems is gathering supporters for a new embedded change control advisory council aimed at devising an update-free control mechanism that can alter the software a device is able to run, allowing for things like patches and virus scans to be initiated on the fly. The group has already drawn the likes of Microsoft, NEC and Wyse.


The speed at which new devices, particularly from the consumer side, become network embeds makes it unlikely that widespread interoperability will be available any time soon. But as these tools become more crucial to the competitive edge, compatibility with enterprise systems will prove vital.

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