Mobile access firm iPass has introduced a major overhaul of its service with the goal of cutting costs and giving enterprise customers greater flexibility in the communications services they use.
The new platform is also designed to make it simpler for end users to get connected while on the move, according to the firm.
Available immediately, the iPass Open Mobile Platform gives customers greater freedom to choose which networks they wish mobile staff to use, doing deals with local carriers, for example, rather than buying into global access through a single provider or relying on networks already affiliated with iPass.
"We're giving enterprises the tools for carrier independence, so they can decrease connection costs. At the same time we're bringing down user support costs, making it simpler for users to get connected," said iPass senior product marketing manager Matt Cooke.
The Open Mobile Platform is a cloud-based service with access via a portal for administrators to apply policy controls, as well as analysis on mobile network usage in order to hone those policies in the future.
"Customers have told us that things are chaotic, with employees buying their own 3G adapters and devices and enterprises struggling to manage. At the same time, workers are using the virtual private network less as more use is being made of cloud-based resources," said Cooke.
Because the iPass service has always used a software client on each endpoint, the company is "uniquely placed to help", according to Cooke.
The lightweight Open Mobile Connect client will make life easier for workers by automatically selecting the best available connection based on policy rules set by the IT department, and the most cost-effective connection.
"Open Mobile Connect will characterise all networks to make a decision, and it will also walk you through connecting to a public hotspot if you need to enter a key or buy a voucher," said Cooke.
However, while iPass is positioning its client as the mobile connection manager of choice, it will "play nicely" with other connection managers, such as those supplied with 3G modems by mobile operators, applying security policies to ensure that the endpoint protection is up to date.
Licensing for the new iPass service is on a per-active user basis, and costs "just a few dollars per seat", according to Cooke.
"But the real value of the service is how much it saves you on network usage costs," he added.
Existing customers will given a migration path to the new platform, iPass said.
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