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Roger Fouché: Blackberry devices often need additional equipment to run on company networks.
Roger Fouché: Blackberry devices often need additional equipment to run on company networks.

Smart phones may call for added support

Posted online
In the last decade, the personal digital assistant and the cell phone have merged and grown into the smart phone – whether it’s a Blackberry, iPhone, Palm or a device running Google’s Android operating system.

Regardless of their names, what these have in common is their ability to perform multiple computer functions on handheld hardware, which is why many companies, including Bolivar-based law firm Douglas, Haun & Heidemann PC, are issuing them to employees.

The firm’s employees use a total of six iPhones and two Blackberries, depending on personal preference, said Ruth Medley, legal administrator.

“They have immediate information available right to them … in real time so that they can schedule trials, or whatever they need to, when they’re in court,” Medley said, noting that the devices also are handy for sending and receiving documents.

Medley said although both types of devices are easy to use and support, the Blackberry devices seem to require more software maintenance.

That’s why, in addition to personal preferences, it’s important to look at whether additional hardware or software may be required.

Roger Fouché, president and owner of IT firm Fouché Enterprises LLC, concurs with Medley’s assessment that Blackberry devices may require more support.

He noted that the Blackberry and the iPhone are based on two different systems. He said the Blackberry, which is typically favored for larger enterprises with many users, often needs additional equipment installed on the company’s network – either a “desktop redirector” program that runs on the user’s personal computer, or a dedicated Blackberry server that can cost more than $2,000.

Most other smart phones, such as iPhone or Android-based devices, will connect directly to the Microsoft Exchange e-mail server, as well as offering other services and applications that do not have to go through a redirector or dedicated server, Fouché said, noting that Android-based devices are more widely used by his customers.  

Jeff Bendure, senior director of support services at JMark Business Solutions Inc., said the top two devices JMark customers ask to support are the iPhone and Blackberry, and he said for his customers’ needs, they both work more or less “out of the box” with little configuration necessary. Other devices, such as those using Windows Mobile, he said, can cause more headaches.

Bendure is optimistic, too, that features of iOS 4, Apple’s newest iPhone operating system, released June 21, will be well-received by business users. The system offers enhanced security, central management capabilities and FaceTime, a videoconferencing application made possible by a second, viewer-facing camera in the iPhone 4.

“It is so convenient to have a videoconference with anyone anywhere, and not have to be at your computer with your camera on your laptop and a WebEx session open,” Bendure said.

Although FaceTime is currently limited to use with wireless Internet connections rather than AT&T’s already-overburdened 3G cell phone data network, Bendure expects that limitation will go away once cell phone companies have had time to upgrade their networks.[[In-content Ad]]

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