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Getting in Sync

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PCQ Bureau
New Update

The future belongs to mobile

devices that can access any kind of data from anywhere–other mobile

devices, desktops, LANs, or the Internet. That’s something almost every

industry expert and leader will tell you. And that’s where data

synchronization protocols come in.

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When

you access data on your network through your mobile device–such as a

palmtop–you make changes to your local copy. Now, the data on your device

becomes different from that on the network. Moreover, in the meantime, some

changes may have been made to the same data on your network. So, what needs

to be done now is synchronize the two sets of data–that is, incorporate

both sets of changes to update the data. As you can imagine, this is a

somewhat complicated operation. So, the data synchronization protocol comes

into the picture. It defines the workflow for communication during a data

synchronization session when the mobile device is connected to the network.

The protocol has to support naming and identification of records, common

protocol commands to synchronize local and networked data, and should be

able to identify and resolve synchronization conflicts.

There are lots of data

synchronization products available today, but most connect a few types of

data to a few devices, and use different communication protocols over the

network. This plethora of protocols complicates matters for all concerned–users,

device manufacturers, service providers, and application developers. So, a

new initiative called SyncML has been launched, which aims to provide an

open data synchronization protocol.

The initiative’s been

launched by a set of industry heavyweights–IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia,

Palm, Psion, and Starfish Software–and is open for membership. The aim is

to deliver a protocol that would synchronize networked data with any mobile

device, and a mobile device with any networked data. So, the protocol would

work over wireless and wireline networks, support a range of transport

protocols such as HTTP, WSP (Wireless Session Protocol which is part of the

WAP–Wireless Application Protocol– suite), OBEX, SMTP, POP3, IMAP,

TCP/IP, etc, enable data access from various applications, and support

various kinds of networked data, such as news, e-mail, calendars, relational

data, XML and HTML documents, etc. The protocol would enable any

information, no matter where it’s stored, to be consistent, accessible,

and updated. For example, any change you make to your calendar on your

mobile device would be available in the network calendar to your secretary.

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The protocol development will

keep in mind the constraints of wireless networks, namely limited

bandwidths, low reliability of connections, and high network latency. It’ll

be based on XML (eXtensible Markup Language). More information is available

at: www.syncML.org.

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