Wireless and Mobile Application Synchronization


As the reach of wireless and mobile systems continues beyond personal productivity tools into the realms of corporate applications, users increasingly trust and depend on the integrity and timeliness of data that spans the host and the various mobile platforms–a mobile phone, and handheld computer, or a laptop. Reference data on the multiple devices must be current, transferable, and reliable.

Data synchronization is the term used to refer to this reconciliation operation where updates are exchanged and conflicts are resolved. These data synchronization activities are performed over a session management layer. Synchronization across different platform and applications sounds at first pass to be a single action to harmonize data across these platforms, but in reality it involves multiple levels of carefully defined activities to rationalize the contents of two or more sources of data (across one, two, or more platforms). This last dimension, spanning a broad range of data types across a range of operating systems, database systems, and devices, offers a significant challenge in the quest for interoperability. There is no accepted implemented standard today for addressing this need–there is a proliferation of different, proprietary data synchronization mechanisms for mobile devices.

The absence of a single data synchronization standard was identified as a major hurdle for end-users, device manufacturers, application developers, and service providers over a year ago in early groundwork leading up to the formation of The Open Group’s Mobile Management Forum.

In February 2000, IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Psion, and Starfish set-up SyncML (Synchronization Mark-up Language ). SyncML has set forth as its goal to develop and promote an open universal standard for synchronizing data across different computer platforms, networks, and devices. SyncML is an XML-based data synchronization protocol supporting data synchronization (email, calendar, contact management information, as well as enterprise data stored in databases and web-based documents) while aiming to be open enough to accommodate new forms of content available in future.

The Role of The Open Group

The Open Group should support the activities of the SyncML group.

The Mobile Management Forum should work closely with SyncML (and similar organizations) and the existing players in the market to ensure that the solutions fully meet the needs of users and integrate and interoperate effectively with the proposed Common Session Management Layer (CSML) work.

Furthermore, The Open Group should encourage close interaction between the Mobile Management Forum and SyncML, so that the corporate/government user community will fully appreciate and support initiatives to create an open interoperable data synchronization protocol.