cStar and CA Solutions ... Mobile ebusiness will endow a plethora of devices with network connected intelligence.


Enterprise Computing

Technology extends remote network connectivity and intelligence to a plethora of remote appliances

To extend the reach of technology management beyond the traditional IT enterprise is the objective of Computer Associates International Inc.'s Mobile eBusiness initiative, according to the company.

This project, CA said, will endow a plethora of appliances with intelligence and network connectedness.

"Our customers are already using (these capabilities) to dramatically enhance the value of their products and services and to create wholly new e-business opportunities," said Ken Farber, the firm's senior vice-president of worldwide alliances.

Devices that will be wirelessly managed using CA's Unicenter TNG technology include cell phones, handheld computers, satellite dishes, two-way messaging devices, automobiles, vending machines, refrigerators and microwaves, the company said.

cStar Technologies Inc., a Toronto-based developer of wireless transmission equipment, is already exploiting Unicentre TNG's capabilities to wirelessly administer devices outside the traditional IT realm. 

The firm's products -- SkyGate, DirectGate and ThruGate -- have interfaces to CA's Unicenter TNG via American Mobile's wireless network.
The firm has demonstrated how this combination of technologies can be used to remotely manage and monitor soft drink vending machines, as one example, from the vendors' headquarters.

"An administrator located many miles away can actually see the number of pop cans in each slot, the money in the hopper and temperature variations," said Stella Yoon, cStar's president and CEO. 
She said if the door opens, or refrigeration fails, an alarm is immediately sounded and repair persons can be dispatched to the site.
According to Yoon, the magic is performed principally by two bits of technology.

A small antenna perched on top of the vending machine transmits information about the unit's most current status. At the receiving end, she said, is a management console running CA's Unicenter TNG.

The remotely administered vending machine, however, represents only one among hundreds of possible applications of this technology, according to Srdjan Milutinovic, cStar's vice-president of systems development. "We like to see what we're doing as contributing to Internet wave 3.," he said.

This new wave, he said, is characterized by the integration of non-IT devices with IT infrastructures, and over any media including wireless WAN, wireless LAN or landline.

By Joaquim Menezes, Computing Canada 

For instance, he said, a soon-to-be launched cStar project will enable a major California-based utility company to monitor and manage its electricity meters. The company, he said, administers both industrial and domestic meters. 

They won't need to send out personnel to do meter-reading anymore. A mere click of a button will give a centrally-located administrator all the facts relating to power consumption in a specific neighborhood." He said the biggest benefit from the implementation would come from the control of energy throughout the grid.

According to Yoon, cStar's value proposition -- as opposed to other communication control device vendors -- is that its systems cater to a variety of verticals. This is possible because these systems are based on open designs that accommodate any market or need, she said.

Yoon also said cStar's internally developed wireless transport protocol minimizes the transmission traffic by at least 50 per cent, while maximizing the throughput on the line.  "Because of this, customers' air time costs on public networks will be very low."