Thursday Jun 21, 2012

Enabling M2M and Mobility in Healthcare

Jim Connors has created a video showcase of a comprehensive healthcare solution, connecting a mobile application directly to an embedded patient monitoring system. In the demo, Jim illustrates how you can easily build solutions on top of the Java embedded platform, using Oracle products like Berkeley DB and Database Mobile Server.

Jim is running Apache Tomcat on an embedded device, using Berkeley DB as the data store. BDB is transparently linked to an Oracle Database backend using  Database Mobile Server. Information protection is important in healthcare, so it is worth pointing out that these products offer strong data encryption, for storage as well as transit.

In his video, Jim does a great job of demystifying M2M. What's compelling about this demo is that uses a solution architecture that enterprise developers are already comfortable and familiar with: a Java apps server with a database backend. The additional pieces used to embed this solution are Oracle Berkeley DB and Database Mobile Server. It functions transparently, from the perspective of Java apps developers. This means that organizations who understand Java apps (basically everyone) can use this technology to develop embedded M2M products. The potential uses for this technology in healthcare alone are immense; any device that measures and records some aspect of the patient could be linked, securely and directly, to the medical records database. Breathing, circulation, other vitals, sensory perception, blood tests, x-rats or CAT scans. The list goes on and on. In this demo case, it's a testament to the power of the Java embedded platform that they are able to easily interface the device, called a Pulse Oximeter, with the web application.

If Jim had stopped there, it would've been a cool demo. But he didn't; he actually saved the most awesome part for the end! At 9:52 Jim drops a bombshell:

He's also created an Android app, something a doctor would use to view patient health data from his mobile device.

The mobile app is seamlessly integrated into the rest of the system, using the device agent from Oracle's Database Mobile Server. In doing so, Jim has really showcased the full power of this solution: the ability to build M2M solutions that integrate seamlessly with mobile applications.

In closing, I want to point out that this is not a hypothetical demo using beta or even v1.0 products. Everything in Jim's demo is available today. What's more, every product shown is mature, and already in production at many customer sites, albeit not in the innovative combination Jim has come up with. If your customers are in the market for these type of solutions (and they almost certainly are) I encourage you to download the components and try it out yourself! All the Oracle products showcased in this video are available for evaluation download via Oracle Technology Network.

Thursday Jun 07, 2012

Getting a handle on mobile data

written by Ashok Joshi

The proliferation of mobile devices in the corporate world is both a blessing as well as a challenge.  Mobile devices improve productivity and the velocity of business for the end users; on the other hand, IT departments need to manage the corporate data and applications that run on these devices.

Oracle Database Mobile Server (DMS for short) provides a simple and effective way to deal with the management challenge.  DMS supports data synchronization between a central Oracle database server and data on mobile devices.  It also provides authentication, encryption and application and device management.  Finally, DMS is a highly scalable solution that can be used to manage hundreds of thousands of devices.  

Here’s a simplified outline of how such a solution might work. Each device runs local sync and mgmt agents that handle bidirectional data flow with an Oracle enterprise backend, run remote commands, and provide status to the management console. For example, mobile admins could monitor multiple networks of mobile devices, upgrade their software remotely, and even destroy the local database on a compromised device. DMS supports either Oracle Berkeley DB or SQLite for device-local storage, and runs on a wide variety of mobile platforms. The schema for the device-local database is pretty simple – it contains the name of the application that’s installed on the device as well as details such as product name, version number, time of last access etc.

Each mobile user has an account on the monitoring system.  DMS supports authentication via the Oracle database authentication mechanisms or alternately, via an external authentication server such as Oracle Identity Management. DMS also provides the option of encrypting the data on disk as well as while it is being synchronized.

Whenever a device connects with DMS, it sends the list of all local application changes to the server; the server updates the central repository with this information.  Synchronization can be triggered on-demand, whenever there’s a change on the device (e.g. new application installed or an existing application removed) or via a rule-based schedule (e.g. every Saturday). Synchronization is very fast and efficient, since only the changes are propagated.  This includes resume capability; should synchronization be interrupted for any reason, the next synchronization will resume where the previous synchronization was interrupted.

If the device should be lost or stolen, DMS has the capability to remove the applications and/or data from the device. This ability to control access to sensitive data and applications is critical in the corporate environment.

The central repository also allows the IT manager to track the kinds of applications that mobile users use and recommend patches and upgrades, while still allowing the mobile user full control over what applications s/he downloads and uses on the device.  This is useful since most devices are used for corporate as well as personal information.

In certain restricted use scenarios, the IT manager can also control whether a certain application can be installed on a mobile device.  Should an unapproved application be installed, it can easily be removed the next time the device connects with the central server.

Oracle Database mobile server provides a simple, effective and highly secure and scalable solution for managing the data and applications for the mobile workforce.

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Eric Jensen

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