Since mobile unified communications became a reality in earnest, two to two-and-a-half years ago, the number of dual mode handsets supported by any given provider’s technology has been a big bone of contention—or, more accurately, promotion. (‘We support 437 handsets; we’re better’—you get the idea.)
Mountain View, Calif.-based DiVitas Networks today made an announcement that pretty much sews up that competition for good (or perhaps makes it irrelevant going forward).
The flashy way to state what they’ve done would be something along the lines of: ‘DiVitas’s technology now works with the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phone—not to mention the desktop PC.’ While those are the big attention-getters, in reality what they’ve done is to make their technology compatible with any device that runs a Web browser—a number that’s growing every day.
According to CEO Vivek Khuller, the market reality that set the company on the development path that ended with today’s announcement was the overwhelming predominance of what they are calling “Bring Your Own” phones.
“We [started with] the notion that the mobile devices would be bought by the enterprise and distributed to the employees,” Khuller told EnterpriseVoIPplanet. “The reality is that people pick their own phones. People pick their own plans, their own carriers.
“So for people like us, who are in the business of writing enterprise mobile applications, if we cannot put our applications on this wide variety of phones, we really lose the ability to drive true gains within the enterprise,” Khuller said.
This clearly called for a new approach: Rather than negotiating with owners of ‘closed,’ proprietary operating systems in order to gain the access necessary to write native applications for more devices, why not build a way to accomplish the same end using a piece of open technology that’s already on the device?
That is exactly what DiVitas has done.
“This is the approach we are taking to mobilizing the suite of enterprise applications that we’re focused on,” Khuller elaborated “—mobilizing the desk phone, corporate IM, and social apps like status and presence and location and network—and tying it all together in a single client and making that available on a phone that could be any phone that’s bought by an individual.”
Not only does this vastly enlarge the potential market universe that DiVitas can address (nice for them), it make the benefits of mobile unified communication (cost savings and enhanced communications efficiency), available to many kinds of organizations that would be unable (or simply unwilling) to try to impose on their end users the kind device uniformity that would have been required heretofore.
“If you want to distribute a client through a large population—say a student body at a school—and there are 10,000 or 20,000 students, and each student had a different device from a different service provider, it becomes a very difficult problem for the school,” Khuller observed by way of example. “But if you can make it Web enabled, it doesn’t matter which carrier or which phone these guys are using, as long as they have a Web browser on the device.”
Not only are enormous deployment hurdles swept away, participation quickly becomes essentially universal. And, of even greater importance from the IT department’s perspective, they’re fully in control of the technology—with little or no device management to attend to.
“The biggest problem we solve for the customer is not only giving them the application mobility around voice and social apps, but more importantly, delivering this functionality in a way that it can be sustained both by corporate IT or the service provider.” Khuller pointed out. “Since the application is Web driven, the amount of device management an enterprise would have to do is minimized; everything is managed at the server, so there is nothing to download or upgrade—or manage on an ongoing basis.”
Ron Hutchins, CTO of Georgia Institute of Technology, agrees. “Universities constitute one of the most diverse handset ecosystems, where IT has minimal control over selection of handsets or carriers by students,” he said. “With support for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, DiVitas would be able to offer handset and carrier choice that would be very appealing in a college campus environment.”
Also because it is server based, the DiVitas Web interface can be easily customized. Colors and logos can be easily changed, for example. Moreover, custom applications can be integrated into the interface by means of the DiVitas API (DAPI).
Khuller cited a hypothetical example of an international financial organization customizing the DiVitas Web client with its logo other elements and creating a communications portal they could roll out to their employees, worldwide. “It doesn’t matter which phones these guys are using. As long as they have a Web browser on their phone, they’re basically connected to the enterprise communication services through that portal.”