Nine wireless network companies to watch

Smarter smart phones, beyond the BlackBerry and exploiting XML

Vettro

Founded: September 2000

Location: New York, US.

What it offers: Vettro 360, a suite of five mobile business applications coupled with an underlying Java-based service-oriented architecture (SOA): sales and CRM, facilities management, field service and repair, IT service management, pickup and delivery.

The software first downloads a runtime environment based on Java virtual machine created for the user's specific client device and operating system, and then the selected Vettro application. The 360 application server resides on the vendor's network operations center or behind the enterprise firewall. The client applications use XPath messages over the wireless network to talk to this server, which is essentially a messaging bus.

The server uses Web services interfaces, APIs and other interfaces based on the Java Connection Architecture to link easily with back-end applications and data. The Vettro code handles a battery of mobility challenges, such as maintaining data persistence on both sides of a transaction if a network connection isn't available.

Why it's worth watching: Combines well-designed mobile applications with an infrastructure that exploits the flexibility and adaptability inherent in SOA. Applications are expressed as metadata in XML files that are downloaded to handhelds where the run-time interprets the file based on the device features and operating system, and generates the application that "fits" that device. And Web services interfaces make it much simpler to blend on the handheld data and workflow steps from multiple back-end applications. Dexterra and Antenna Software are two others applying SOA techniques to mobile frameworks and applications.

Management: Joe Rymsza became president and CEO in 2001. Previously, he was vice president of sales and recruiting at software vendor Cysive, helping to boost the company's revenues from US$7.7M to US$50.3M over three years. He also held sales management titles at Object Design, now part of Progress Software. Yet his original training was technical: he has a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame's School of Engineering.

How it got its start: The company's initial incarnation was in 1999 as iQenergy, a Web and mobile systems integrator. In 2000, it changed the name to Vettro, and shifted from professional services to applications based on a mobile software architecture that could quickly adapt to the varied clients and back ends in the enterprise. It introduced its pickup and delivery application first, followed by a GPS-based mobile dispatch program for BostonCoach.

How company got its name: After "iQenergy," almost anything might be an improvement, and that's pretty much what they decided on. The company leadership wanted a new name that had no meaning, and therefore no potentially adverse connotations, but with "some strength or boldness to the way it sounded."

Funding: Four rounds with a total in the range of US$50 million to US$60 million, from Globespan Capital Partners; Greylock; Kodiak Venture Partners; New Things; Sigma + Partners.

Who's using the product: BostonCoach, Carillion, Cigna, Clemson University, General Electric, Hitachi Data Systems and McKesson.

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