Progress steers PeerDirect towards remote relations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 February, 2003, 12:00am

Progress Software has launched a product the business application software company believes will change how companies deal with remote offices and mobile workers.

The PeerDirect Distributed Enterprise product allows data and applications to be deployed at the local level while being managed from a central location.

Carl Olofson, programme director for information management and data integration software at International Data Corp (IDC), said the model was ideal in handling this kind of problem.

'The central database has played a key role in corporations for many years. But to maintain the integrity of the database it has been necessary keep all relevant data in one place. This has severely inhibited flexibility for distributed organisations or organisations with mobile workers,' he said.

'The alternative has been complex and error-prone attempts at data movement and satellite database management. As a result, companies have never had a practical way to deploy true distributed applications.'

According to Mr Olofson, the PeerDirect solution handles these problems by maintaining central control of the database but allowing local deployment.

'IDC has long suggested that the ideal approach is one that has corporate data managed centrally but deployed locally,' he said.

The Progress system allowed synchronised distribution of data so companies could make the best use of staff and low-cost hardware in multiple locations, he said.

Jeff Ray, Progress vice-president for worldwide field operations, was in Hong Kong last week talking about this and other initiatives it was working on.

'PeerDirect is all about making data available to decision-makers when and where they need it,' he said.

Some technology solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM), require immediate access to information in order to work.

'If the sales force has access to CRM data in the field, that's great, but if you have to wait for a long time because the network is down or the connection is too slow, you could lose a customer,' he said.

The product consists of the PeerDirect InnerEdge Server, the PeerDirect Replication Engine, and the PeerDirect OuterEdge Server.

The InnerEdge Server is a replication technology deployed at the data centre and works with existing databases. The Replication Engine is database-specific and can maintain a complete data set that allows read and write access.

The OuterEdge Server sits at local offices and handles both the data and applications that the remote locations need. This can be configured to work with most popular databases or use the PeerDirect UltraSQL database or the PeerDirect Secure Server which is a database and Web application server.

Chris Henderson, Progress vice-president for the Asia-Pacific, said PeerDirect would help companies break free from the chains of central control.

'Our mission is to free companies from the tyranny of centralisation, allowing our customers to deploy truly distributed applications that enable disconnected use and stay up and running even if there are network or database problems.

'By giving our customers the opportunity to manage their applications centrally and deploy remotely, we are giving network architects new, more efficient ways of designing the information flow in the enterprise,' he said.

Progress managing director for North Asia and Japan, Dennis Ng, said there were many customers in the car industry in Hong Kong.

With many of the world's largest car manufacturers looking to do business in China, Progress was 'seriously looking at possibilities in China . . . We shall almost certainly go in with partners', Mr Ng said.

Mr Ray said Progress was driven by its partners, and had a reputation for being a company people liked to work with.

'Unlike some other companies, we never compete with our partners,' he said.

Progress has a development lab in Massachusetts, and is considering one in China.