Hotspot provider iPass has rolled out its iPass Open Mobile Platform, a cloud-based management solution for enterprise mobile machines. Through an online management portal and mobile client, administrators can ensure that remote workers use the most cost effective method of access, as well as keep remote machines up to snuff with corporate security policies.
Today's typical road warrior is armed with a number of connectivity options, including the free WiFi at home or at the local coffee shop, day-rate connectivity at airports and hotels, and 3G mobile broadband cards. iPass itself offers enterprises flat-rate pricing on a hotspot network of 140,000 locations. Each option has certain advantages, depending on the location of the user. Unfortunately, the end user often makes the final decision on how to get connected. If that user fires up their 3G WWAN card overseas, for example, the cost to the enterprise could quickly skyrocket. These costs, as well the overall health and security of the remote machines themselves, is the problem that iPass claims to manage.
The iPass Mobile Connect client is the user-facing component of the platform. On the front end, it gives users a standard connection manager for all of their network adapters on their devices, replacing the software provided by the mobile carriers. By getting down to the adapter level, the Mobile Connect client builds a history of the how, where and how long of the mobile user's remote connections. This information is passed up to the portal and can serve as a troubleshooting tool for help desk personnel dealing with user connectivity issues. The Mobile Connect client can also be set to an Auto-Connect mode using IT policies and not end-user discretion to determine the best, most cost-effective means of connectivity.
On the back end, the iPass solution features two components, Mobile Control and Mobile Insight. Mobile Control allows administrators to set policies for corporate machines out in the world. These policies not only manage what types of wireless network can be accessed, but also can ensure that anti-virus definitions and other software updates are being performed. Mobile Insight provides the reporting element, giving administrators a full view of how their users are connecting from the outside. Mobile Insight can be used to determine patterns of problems with certain networks, as well as give a clear view of how usage aligns with the costs associated with corporate data plans.
The iPass Open Mobile Platform is an antidote to the growing expense of a burgeoning mobile workforce. Licensing for the platform is structured similarly to its Mobile Network counterpart. When a user connects to the Internet using the iPass Mobile Connect client, they are considered an active user for the given month. Enterprises are charged for the number of active users each month at a typical rate of $2 - $5 per active user, per month. The licensing structure enables the Mobile Connect client to be included in the standard corporate laptop image. This makes it available to all users, but the organization will only be charged for the ones that actually use the service.