Symbol Simplifies Software Distribution Over WLANs

By Matthew Peretz

January 16, 2002

Product enables centralized control and distribution of software over WLANs to end-users.

Symbol Technologies unveiled its AirBEAM software Monday, enabling centralized distribution of applications and upgrades to remote client devices over a wireless LAN. The software is designed to work over both Wi-Fi and proprietary WLANs.

According to Symbol, the software eliminates the need for any wired connections to perform things like OS upgrades, firmware upgrades, and mobile application distribution. For an organization with thousands of remote users in any number of remote locations this represents significant time and cost savings.

Symbol has deployed the AirBEAM software on 15,000 Spectrum24 High Rate wireless embedded Palm computers used by Sears, Roebuck and Co. employees throughout the United States. "We are using Symbol's mobile computing devices for applications critical to our enterprise efficiency and the AirBEAM product is saving us time, money and human resources all of which are tied to our IT budget," said Doug Klein, Senior Director, Retail Systems, Sears. "I now have the flexibility to easily vary my applications based on specific needs and can widely manage the slightest firmware modification or 'bug' fix."

The AirBEAM software can automatically detect when firmware upgrades are needed in devices and can refresh embedded Wi-Fi wireless adapters, for example, with new firmware for additional mobility features.

AirBEAM uses a client-server based deployment model to centrally control software and configuration information within mobile devices. Users can receive specific applications at log-in and new apps and firmware can be initialized at boot-up or on demand. Symbol stated that the software is client-driven, requires no customer server components and supports industry standard transport protocols, including TCP/IP, BOOTP/DHCP, and FTP.

This software supports DOS, WindowsCE, Pocket PC, Pocket PC 2002, and Palm OS environments. Symbol stated that the company is planning to release AirBEAM on a number of its own mobile computer configurations.

AirBEAM Smart can execute in mobile devices over any WLAN, regardless of transmission technology. including proprietary and IEEE standards-based networks. The OS-independent software runs from a standard TFTP/FTP server within a wired network configuration. AirBEAM also supports Wi-Fi installations where Symbol handheld devices are working with wireless LAN access points from other vendors, such as Agere and Cisco Systems. Subsequent versions of AirBEAM will support the Symbol NetVision family of wireless IP telephony devices and the new Spectrum24 High Rate OEM PC card for portable printers.

The company stated that the AirBEAM Smart software is available on a per device software license basis - or as an an integrated component in its wireless network management system, currently branded as AirBEAM Manager.

The AirBEAM Package Builder is also available for free download from the company's Software Technology Center - in order to facilitate development by third party vendors.

Matthew Peretz is Managing Editor of 802.11-Planet.com



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