December 27, 2000, 2:06 PM — The move to mobile networking in some ways parallels the enterprise deployments of Web-based commerce applications of a few years back. As with e-commerce rollouts, companies are once again looking at building new applications, or recasting existing ones, to run over new network technologies and empower users in new ways. And, as with Internet commerce, mobile networking projects carry their own technical idiosyncrasies and challenges.
In the Internet space, some companies - particularly start-ups or smaller companies -- have turned to application service providers (ASP) for the resources and economies of scale necessary to get their offerings to market quickly. Similarly, wireless ASPs (WASP) might prove helpful for the deployment of certain mobile applications. Some do a good job of shielding companies from the development complexities of linking an application to the myriad types of wireless networks out there and enabling the application to run across a range of mobile device types.
Granted, just like there are many ASP flavors, there are many different business models practiced by the 135-or-so companies calling themselves WASPs. Most WASPs do more than simply host a wireless application on your behalf. Many run a software platform that enables them to offer a middleware service, whereby the WASP will hook your back-end legacy systems to multiple kinds of wireless networks. Similarly, many will deliver content from those systems in multiple formats to a variety of handset models. For example, one of many middleware services a WASP often will offer is to Wireless Application Protocol-enable an application. Sometimes, all you have to do from a technical standpoint is provide the WASP with an API to the back-end application you wish to mobilize.
Next time, I'll talk about some factors that may influence your WASP selection.