[From Business 2.0]
PeerDirect's technology frees apps -- and their data -- from the central office.
One of the technological ironies of the last five years is that as desktop and notebook computers have gotten faster and more powerful, a lot of computing has moved off them and onto Internet servers. Yet for speed and flexibility, there's still nothing like being there. You don't run Word over the Net, and you probably never will. But in general, neither can you run a shared database application completely from your desktop, since you need up-to-date data and you need to ensure that changes you make to the database are available for other users.
This is where database synchronization tools come in; these allow databases to be replicated on local machines (like servers at branch offices, or users' laptops out in the field) and synchronized with the company's master database when the opportunity arises. Lotus Notes is probably the best-known specialized engine for database replication and synchronization. Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL) also make replication engines for their databases.
And now a new company and product, PeerDirect (a division of Progress Software), is trying to make database distribution even more widely available. The company's technology works with most existing databases and enables entire databases or subsets of them to be replicated among many machines. The technology also has tools for conflict resolution, which is necessary when two users update the same record when they're both offline, and later go online and try to sync their changes with the database. And instead of simply replicating databases from a central server to individual PCs, all clients can replicate for each other (this would be used mostly by branch offices to make updates themselves without going through the central office).
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