Report From Demo: New Products, Technologies Make Data Always Available

The crowd at the posh Demo 2004 conference was about as well equipped with business gadgets as any group you're likely to encounter. There were more high-end laptops, PDA-phones, and

February 17, 2004

2 Min Read
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Scottsdale, Ariz. -- The crowd at the posh Demo 2004 conference here was about as well equipped with business gadgets as any group you're likely to encounter. There were more high-end laptops, PDA-phones, and wireless connectivity gadgets on the scene than there were logo-embossed polo shirts.

So it wasn't surprising that helping all of those devices share the same data and applications was a key theme of the show. Solutions ranged from traditional hardware and software concepts to completely re-imagining today's computing environments.

X Marks The Key Trying to mitigate the enterprise risks and costs associated with home PCs, Israel's Key Computing/Seaside Software Corp. showed off the Xkey, a thumb-sized USB appliance designed to "turn any PC into an personal, private, secure workstation," according to managing director Daniel Schreiber.

Users can plug the device in to any Windows PC, input a PIN number, and thereby establish a "sandbox," insulated from whatever else may be on the PC. Users see their own desktop environment, including their Exchange Server and whatever data and applications they have loaded. (Upcoming versions will automatically synchronize with the user's home desktop environment.) When disconnected, the Xkey leaves no traces on the PC to which it was connected.

The Xkey includes its own microprocessor, database, application server, Exchange client, cryptographic engine, authentication token, and up to 1 Gb of storage. When it ships in May, a 256-Mb Xkey will cost about $300.Help For Pod PeopleIsrael's DataPod plans to use Secure Private Network technology to automatically and seamlessly synchronize all of a mobile worker's data, preferences, and documents, no matter what device is used to access it. The idea is to make all files and preferences available from any Web browser--or even offline--no matter where they are actually stored.

According to the company, it will create "a secure peer-to-peer working environment" that turns all of a users' devices into a single network. The system stores data in multiple places at all times, making it easy to recover from crashes or even lost machines. It will also allow users to share their data as needed. The company says DataPod software will be released in April. Pricing has not yet been set.

Simple AmbitionRight now it exists only as a technology preview, but Joel Allen's AllenPort takes that idea to an ambitious new level. Quoting Thoreau's quest for simplicity, Allen aims to create "an ATM for PCs," where your PC environment--including your software, application settings, and data--follows you no matter what machine you're using. The idea is that these "digital assets" can be accessed just as users access money from any ATM.

Everything is stored locally for best performance, Allen explained, but is also instantly mirrored to a remote data service. That means that the hardware becomes irrelevant and backups become unnecessary--if your PC crashes, your data is secure. A combination of biometric fingerprint scan and PIN numbers will ensure authentication.

Just don't expect any real products to appear until 2005 at the earliest.0

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