Software vendor BEA today demonstrated the results of Project Alchemy, technology designed to increase productivity through mobile thin client computing models.
While conceding that the technology is still some two years away from maturity, BEA said its effort would become a direct competitor to the IBM Lotus Workplace software components unveiled earlier this month.
Both companies have drawn on thin client/server computing models established in the 1990s to facilitate a low-cost alternative to running applications on individual desktops.
But BEA claimed that its approach differed from IBM because it aims to provide mobile access with a standardised browser that is always on, regardless of whether the user is online or offline or has an intermittent GPRS connection.
Adam Bosworth, BEA's chief architect in charge of Project Alchemy, said: "This demo looks like a regular browser user interface [UI], but the ability to have on[line] or offline web services means the user has a very different experience."
The technology allows the user to work in other areas of the interface accessing other data while waiting for requests to be synchronised and processed at server level.
This is designed to remove the need to refresh complete pages with a round trip to the server at every click. Non-synchronised data is represented by different colours on the page until a connection can be established to process pending requests.
And by using established standards-based caching architecture, synchronisation protocols, templates and XML, this universal client platform will aid integration with the introduction of an adaptive UI server that resides in the central IT system.
Bosworth said this model would reduce the need for end user support and that BEA would eventually release it into the open source community.
James Governor, principal analyst at Redmonk, commented that BEA and IBM are both trying to achieve the same thing: rich client functionality with a thin client manageability model.
But he added: "There is a likelihood IBM will adopt a standard browser in Eclipse, but [BEA's] notion of extending the browser rather than replacing it will extend technology investments and existing computing models.
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