Networking and wireless companies have established a forum to create an open standard for universal data synchronisation.
IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Psion and Starfish Software announced he SyncML Initiative last week. Its aim is to develop and promote an open industry specification for universal data synchronisation across multiple networks, platforms and devices.
SyncML is an XML-based data synchronisation protocol optimised for mobile computing, including email, management information, enterprise data stored in databases, web-based documents. It is scalable enough to integrate with emerging forms of data.
Robin Elsom, VP product development at analyst Jyra, said that the move was in response to the recent alliance between Microsoft and Ericsson that aims to develop a Windows CE-based mobile version of Internet Explorer.
Elsom said: "But that alliance is based on totally proprietary Microsoft software. They even want to put Exchange on a mobile handset. In contrast, the SyncML group are promoting an open standards-based approach."
How SyncML works
The group explained that data synchronisation is currently based on multiple sets of different protocols, each one functioning with a limited number of data types, devices or systems. An open industry specification would enable universal interoperability between systems and devices.
The SyncML specification will enable interoperability on wireless and wireline platforms for corporate servers, web servers, desktops, laptops, PDAs, handheld computers, mobile phones and other mobile devices, regardless of platform or manufacturer.
Elsom said: "XML has powerful potential, but a lot of sites will need an overhaul to take advantage of data synchronisation."
The SyncML Initiative will use a foundation of industry standards such as XML, MIME, vCard and iCalendar to represent internet data, email information, personal contact information and calendering information.
- What is SyncML?
SynchML is a binary encoded variant of XML. It eliminates the need for high bandwidth, but not processing power. The processing will be carried out in the client machine.
The aim is to synchronise networked data with any mobile device, and vice-versa.
Protocols supported will be HTTP, WSP, OBEX, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, TCP/IP and proprietary wireless communication protocols.
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