Rollout: iPass' Mobile Connectivity Services

With a new Device Lockdown service, iPass offers improved security and policy enforcement for remote-access management.

November 18, 2006

4 Min Read
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As Wi-Fi hotspots, metro Wi-Fi and 3G technologies proliferate, enterprises want to take advantage of this connectivity. However, mobility strategies require careful security-policy management, as well as centralized auditing measures to track costs. IPass, a provider of remote-access connection services, addresses these needs with two new offerings: Device Lockdown and Virtual Office.

iPass' Main Connection

Of the vendors that act as aggregators of mobile connectivity solutions, iPass has high market recognition. Gartner's June 2006 Magic Quadrant for Managed Remote Access and Mobility Services placed iPass in its leaders quadrant, along with Fiberlink Communications. Other competitors include AT&T, BT, MegaPath, Orange Business Services, Qwest, Sprint and Verizon Business.

IPass' services let enterprises take advantage of mobile connectivity simply and securely. At the heart of its service is the iPass Connect client, the end-user interface. IPass Connect lets users move easily from one remote-access network to another by presenting a list of available connection options. The client's single sign-on capability eliminates the need for users to authenticate to the corporate network through multiple mechanisms.With iPass, customers have access to a variety of connection mediums, including more than 60,000 wired and wireless hotspot locations worldwide. Connection to 3G services is also available in the United States and parts of Asia. Such widespread connectivity should simplify billing by reducing the need to reimburse employees' one-time remote connection fees. These fees, typically found in individual expense reports, make up about 70 percent of a company's remote and mobile access costs, according to Gartner. Bundled access fees can reduce these costs and aggregate the information in a single place. In iPass' case, a Web portal is available for tracking and reporting of usage and billing. IT administrators also can use the Web portal to manage profiles, obtain connection information and assist users in troubleshooting problems.

Lockdown Mode

Although iPass has had strong connectivity options, its security needed updating to protect networks from viruses and attacks generated by corrupted endpoints and to remain competitive with Fiberlink's offerings. Device Lockdown is a move in the right direction.

IPass lets IT departments create, manage and enforce policies that improve security, with features such as automatic patch downloads when an end user connects to the iPass network. In addition, admins can control antivirus definition updates and deliver software packages to users. To ensure compliance with these policies, Device Lockdown checks the user's computer before it authenticates to the corporate network. If the device is out of compliance, the iPass network delivers and deploys the updates.

The Device Lockdown service improves iPass' competitiveness, but still doesn't surpass Fiberlink's offerings, which include managed firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware services. At $6.50 per seat, per month, the endpoint policy-management service with Device Lockdown, improves iPass' competitiveness.

iPass: Outsourcing Mobility Management

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Options For Teleworkers

IPass' newly launched Virtual Office, a result of the company's acquisition of GoRemote in February, helps tackle the challenges associated with giving telecommuters mobile network access.

Virtual Office--$105 per user, per month, based on 100 users--offers a managed broadband solution for telecommuters. IPass works with more than 160 cable and DSL providers in the United States and Canada to install a broadband connection and Wi-Fi router in users' homes. Because connections to Virtual Office are made using iPass Connect, all the security enhancements, including policy management and Device Lockdown, are available with Virtual Office in the same way they are for mobile users of iPass Connect.Virtual Office users needn't deal with the connection provider to solve connectivity problems. The enterprise's IT support group can access and troubleshoot Virtual Office Wi-Fi routers and mobile iPass Connect clients. IPass doesn't supply that support directly--enterprises must have their tech support staff cover these services.

Pass Or Play?

IPass' array of services can simplify many of the problems encountered when employing a mobile connection strategy for the enterprise. By offering better auditing and tracking, IT departments can help troubleshoot issues, better justify costs to the business and be able to focus on building applications that deliver even more value back to the business.

Still, each business must think critically about the service's true ROI, especially if international connectivity is necessary. Furthermore, if an organization has good vendor relationships with mobile connectivity vendors, and good auditing plans and systems-management solutions in place, iPass won't add much value. Also, iPass isn't a panacea for a poorly developed or nonexistent mobility strategy. Managers must carefully develop the strategy before iPass can manage and audit it effectively.

Sean Ginevan is a technology analyst with the Center For Emerging Network Technologies at Syracuse University. Write to him at [email protected].0

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