Spirit Data Capture

Spirit news - January 2013

Welcome to the latest edition of Spirit Data Capture’s newsletter for customers who are interested in information and news relating to rugged mobile data capture solutions.

In this issue, we look at:

- The new Microsoft platforms

- The potential for NoSQL technology

- The impact of the latest industry mergers

- A guide to the best VPN solutions

- A suggestion for outsourcing to reduce costs

- A review of the leading players in the tablet market.

We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. If you would like more information on any of the items below, please call us on 01928 718800 or send an email to: helen.jones@spiritdatacapture.co.uk.


Microsoft: platforms for success?

Microsoft has recently launched several new operating system platforms, two of which are Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Touch-based control is a prime feature of Windows 8, which also includes a new touch-friendly user interface alongside the classic Windows desktop.

Windows 8

If it is to succeed against the other software giants, Windows 8 will have to capture the hearts and minds of tablet consumers as well as traditional desktop users. Windows Phone 8 has been brought into line with Windows 8 by using the same underlying technology. whilst the user interface and experience is similar to Windows Phone 7, this is a rebuild of the platform based on the core Windows technologies.

Another new release is the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s development environment, Visual Studio 2012. Meanwhile, NET 4.5 has been released (.NET is now ten years old!). Its key feature is that it enables developers to build applications for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Getting developers onboard with these new tools is important for Microsoft, as it needs critical mass in terms of third party applications if its new platforms are going to succeed.


Updating databases

Whilst hardware and software have continued to evolve at an ever-increasing pace over the last few years, the development of database technology has lagged behind. Relational database management systems are no longer able to cope with the latest interactive software; with handling the sheer volume of web-based material that has built up (without adding more and larger servers); or coping with the recent explosion in mobile apps.

However, companies such as Amazon and Google have recently developed their own database management solutions, by using ‘NoSQL’ databases. These enable data in web and mobile applications to be managed easily and cost-effectively – and are also a much better fit with the new interactive software. In relation to mobile apps, this has brought new data synchronisation challenges, which are now starting to be addressed by NoSQL database management systems (for instance, support for the synchronisation of data between mobiles and cloud-based databases).

This year should see further interesting developments in the use of NoSQL technology that should benefit mobile users. Watch this space ...


Emerging from mergers

The mobile data capture industry has seen some radical changes in the last year or two, following two major mergers. Over a year ago, Motorola acquired Psion and in December, Honeywell announced that it was acquiring Intermec.

Motorola

So, what is the likely impact of these two mergers on the marketplace? Spirit believes that the market will become smaller now that there are fewer independent manufacturers.

Honeywell

Some products will disappear and the choice of services will be more limited. The three main manufacturers will be Motorola, Honeywell and Datalogic.

Datalogic

Ultimately, the changes could benefit Motorola, as it has such a large range of hardware and a healthy infrastructure. However, as the number of manufacturers shrink, it remains to be seen whether this will have a longer-term impact on technology development and innovation in this sector.


Choosing a wireless solution

Peter George, Vice President International of NetMotion Wireless, offers the following advice on choosing a wireless solution:

NetMotion

Mobile devices and network technologies have evolved in recent years, giving mobile workers access to corporate networks, databases and applications from virtually anywhere. Despite these advances, many organisations are still unfamiliar with the latest remote access technologies and are unsure how to address the biggest mobile deployment concerns: connection cost, availability, speed and security.

The good news is that virtual private network (VPN) solutions have evolved and can now serve the growing number of mobile workforces more effectively. The use of VPN for secure remote access is essential. However, organisations must select their VPN solution carefully, striking a balance between security, performance and usability in the field. Very few solutions work well for truly mobile workers.

Mobility XE

When selecting a VPN, it’s important to analyse whether the workers that will use it are ‘remote’ or ‘mobile’. Remote workers typically require access to a single, local wired or wireless network from a fixed location, such as a home office or hotel room. True mobile workers, however, make use of a rich variety of wireless connections and rely on real-time access to data and applications.

The three most common technologies used for remote and mobile access, IPSec, SSL and Mobile VPNs, are solid, proven technologies. IPSec VPNs provide point-to-point connectivity for remote users, typically over a high speed network. SSL VPNs are a low-cost alternative, initiated through a web browser to provide clientless access to applications over a single network connection.

Unlike traditional IPSec and SSL VPNs, Mobile VPNs perform especially well in mobile and wireless environments. They are designed for the mobile worker and address the challenges associated with wireless networks and mobility. They also provide excellent application compatibility and work well on non-browser-based and even home grown applications, without requiring additional configuration or upgrades.

Mobile VPNs enable mobile workers to roam across wireless networks, traverse dead spots in coverage and even suspend and resume their devices, all without losing data or logging in again. This freedom and flexibility means that employees can serve customers anywhere, using all types of wireless Internet connections.


Cutting costs through professional support

The global economic crisis has forced most organisations to explore different ways of cutting costs. One solution that can be very effective is to outsource some key capabilities. One particular aspect that can be effectively outsourced is help with technical issues. Spirit offers a fully managed helpdesk service that is designed to provide the optimum return on your investment.

Help DeskOur service gives you quick and easy access to professional support and advice on any issues relating to your mobile enterprise solution, including the fast tracking and escalation of issues wherever necessary. It covers items such as mobile VPN and security; device management; rugged mobile hardware (PDAs, laptops and tablets); barcode scanners and printers; remote communication (WWAN, WLAN and PAN); additional mobile hardware; and mobility software. 

So, how can this reduce your costs? Our helpdesk will lead to higher productivity, as a result of minimised downtime and optimal device efficiency. You will get a rapid and professional response to queries and can leave us to sort out any issues, so that you are able to focus on your own business-critical activities. Contact us now for more details!


Who will win the tablet war?

There’s little doubt that tablets have become one of the major success stories of the last two or three years. Although Apple has dominated the marketplace with the iPad – a brand name that has almost become synonymous with the word ‘tablet’ – other providers are now making a strong play for a greater share of this thriving market.

iPad MiniBut who are the forerunners? Microsoft’s much heralded Surface tablet has finally arrived and is beginning to make inroads. Meanwhile, Apple has introduced the mini iPad. Although these two giants might be at the forefront, companies such as Amazon, Google and Samsung shouldn’t be discounted. The Kindle Fire HD has the benefits of Amazon’s own streaming service, whilst Google’s Nexus 7 tablets offer a simple and consistent user experience. Meanwhile, Samsung has focused on an offering with a smaller footprint than conventional tablets – its Galaxy Note II is a combination of phone and tablet and is already proving very popular.

The iPad is likely to prove very hard to beat, as its name has become embedded in our consciousness. However, it has by no means won the war and faces some strong competition. For instance, Amazon is selling its tablets at near cost price, as it hopes to make the most of its profits from the sale of associated digital books, films and music. The war has just begun ...


Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to your colleagues. If you would like more information on any of the items, please call us on 01928 718800 or send an email to: helen.jones@spiritdatacapture.co.uk.


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