Sybase has announced a new version of its iAnywhere Mobile Office which includes business process integration and better support for Apple's iPhone.
Available immediately, the new release adds enhanced administrator and security features, and provides business iPhone users with an enterprise-grade mobile email solution, according to the firm.
The suite already offers mobile access to email from corporate Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange servers, with client-side support for Windows Mobile, Symbian and iPhone devices.
New in this version is a native iPhone client that can be downloaded from the iPhone App Store. While iAnywhere Mobile Office has had iPhone support since 2008, this previously used the iPhone's built-in mail client with Imap or POP access to email.
"One of our differentiators in the new version is that we support access to mail, calendar and tasks from the server onto the iPhone," said iAnywhere business development director Volker Romer.
The native client brings the iPhone functionality closer in line with that available on Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, Romer said, but there are still limitations imposed by Apple.
"Apple forces third-party developers to use the iPhone App Store, so we can't implement over-the-air deployment as we can with other platforms," he explained.
This means that end users must download the client themselves, rather than have it installed by their IT department.
Another limitation imposed by Apple affects security. IAnywhere Mobile Office now integrates a 'lite' version of Afaria Security Manager to protect data stored on the handset. This provides strong authentication and encryption of data on Symbian and Windows Mobile devices, but not the iPhone.
"Apple does not allow third-party encryption tools to run on the iPhone," explained Romer.
Security support is simplified to three pre-defined policies giving 'low', 'medium' and 'high' protection levels that can be selected by administrators. Low level enforces password protection, while medium uses authentication and encryption of emails. The higher level adds complete encryption of the device.
On the server side, Mobile Office now adds support for a 'kill pill' to wipe and deactivate a lost or stolen device. This feature has been supported by iAnywhere in previous products, but was missing from the first release of Mobile Office.
Another major feature is an email-driven approach to mobilise business processes, which iAnywhere describes as its "inbox of the future" strategy.
Romer said that, as rivals such as Microsoft begin to catch up with iAnywhere on mobile email support, the firm has looked at how it can best add value to customers to stay competitive.
Mobilising business processes enables workflow tasks such as manager approval of purchases to be performed via widgets that are sent to their inbox.
"It looks like any other email, but if you open it you see a form that lets you approve or disapprove the purchase," explained Romer.
A Web Services toolkit enables Mobile Office to link with the back-end workflow processes that will typically be implemented using Microsoft Office applications, Romer said.
Other new features include the ability to control multiple iAnywhere Mobile Office servers around the globe from a single console, easing administrative tasks.
Romer also said that iAnywhere has now moved to a common relay server across all its mobile data products. The relay server is the component that sits in the DMZ of a corporate network and acts as middleman between the mobile devices and infrastructure behind the firewall.