Palm and IBM team up on road warrior software

IBM's Tivoli unit and Palm, the leading maker of handheld computers, introduced software this week that allows organisations to not only manage networks of office computers but also reach out to workers on the road.

IBM's Tivoli Systems said it introduced the Tivoli Device Manager for the Palm Computing platform as part of its ongoing bid to address the emerging ``pervasive computing'' market of mobile cell phone and pocket computer users.

The new management software product widens the reach of companies that want to keep track of goods, services and employees and cut costs through use of the handheld computers. Tivoli has traditionally focused on creating software to centrally manage all of the in-house computers in a company.

Executives of the Austin, Texas-based IBM unit said the new management system was aimed at three markets: businesses trading with other businesses, companies wanting better links with their employees and the business-consumer area.

Palm "is becoming a universal platform," Israel Gat, vice president and general manager of Tivoli's Pervasive Management unit, said in a phone interview. "What we are really doing is managing the Pilot economy," he said, referring to the audience of millions of Palm users who collectively constitute a mini-economy of connected computer users.

The system has undergone testing with VicRoads, the Victoria state road agency in Australia. VicRoads has used the device to transmit daily job lists to road crews throughout the state. Tivoli will be offering the system at about $31 per Palm device, allowing a central administrator to manage a far-flung network of Palm computer users and keep them connected to desktop office computers and other company databases.

Gat said the most important feature of the management software was that it allowed the swift accumulation and crunching of numbers. "It is this aggregation of data that really gives meaning to the new Information Age," he said.

Palm, majority owned by 3Com, went public last week in one of the most-anticipated initial public offerings so far this year. The company's shares were up 6-1/2 at 69-5/8 in afternoon trading.

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