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IBM Puts New Spin On Client Computing

IBM last week introduced technology designed to ease the manageability of business applications and increase the productivity of mobile workers.

The company says its Workplace Client Technology--a set of downloadable middleware components that work with server-based applications--marries the power of local processing with the efficiencies of thin-client computing.

The Workplace Client environment features scaled-down versions of key IBM middleware components, including DB2 database and MQ messaging software. That lets devices, such as laptops and handheld computers, that launch business applications through a server perform some data crunching locally.

The technology could be a boon to road warriors. Armed with a scaled-down database, mobile devices that are disconnected from a corporate network would still maintain some functionality. A sales rep, for instance, could access customer data and update information once the connection is resumed. "This makes client devices a first-class participant in the creation of service-oriented architectures," IBM senior VP Steve Mills said at a press conference last week in New York.

IBM plans to tweak many of its Lotus applications to incorporate the Workplace environment. Lotus Workplace Messaging software and Lotus Workplace Documents, a document-management application, are the first products that IBM will adapt, with availability expected by the end of next month. IBM says it will charge business customers an annual fee of $24 per user for access to the rich-client middleware technology, in addition to the price of the application itself.

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