iPass Releases 3.0 Software

By Eric Griffith

June 16, 2003

The iPass virtual network has a new 'service interface' (don't call it 'client software') that will automatically detect an iPass member connection, letting users access based on their location rather than the type of connection.

Today, Redwood Shores, Calif. based iPass, which focuses on providing mobile users with access to their company's network, has released iPassConnect 3.0, a "service interface" for users who connect to the iPass virtual network made up of certified hotspots (and other methods of connecting) around the country.

iPass vice president of marketing Jon Russo says they don't call the new 3.0 version a client, "because we're a service model... when you think of end users there are a lot of ease-of-use issues. WEP, SSID, VPN are all headaches to users." iPassConnect builds in or automates these headaches for the individuals that are outfitted with iPassConnect by their company CTOs.

The new version gets away from requiring that the end-user know how to connect -- whether to dial-in, or use ISDN, or what Wi-Fi settings are needed -- and instead the company has made the software "location-centric."

"The end-user only has to turn on the interface; it'll detect if there's a wireless network, and if iPass subscribes to it. We'll provide that option right up front. No worrying about WEP or SSIDs," says Russo.

The 3.0 software integrates with several types of virtual private network (VPN) connection methods as past versions have, but also adds anti-virus support (just McAfee and Norton for now, with more to come). If either the VPN or anti-virus software specified by the user's CTO aren't running, the software will tear down the connection rather than compromise security going back to the corporate LAN.

Russo says CTOs will also admire the ability to add new technology to the software easily. iPass has added 802.11a, 802.11g, and he says support for something like GPRS would be simple. Companies could provide it to users with a simple software push.

"CIOs usually want to incorporate their campus WLAN into the interface, so we've given them that flexibility," says Russo. "That way, on campus or in another environment, [the user experience] is the same." At home, end users can enter the information for their home WLAN (WEP, SSID, etc.) to get that same type of connection. Such a network can be setup to be "trusted" by the corporate IT department.

The company says version 3.0 of iPassConnect took 18 months to develop. It features a brand new graphical user interface (GUI) created by the same folks that designed the Microsoft Media Player interface. It replaces one they've used in some form or another since 1996, when iPassConnect was first developed for dial-up connections.

"We stress it as an interface -- we have over 200 providers and services that enhance our GUI. So it's not just a client change. It's a service with many components behind it," says Russo.

The 3.0 beta is ending now, and final versions should be available to enterprises by July in English, with Japanese and German native-language versions in the third quarter.

802.11 Planet Conference Wondering how your hotspot be part of the virtual network? Join us at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, June 25 - 27, 2003 at the World Trade Center Boston in Boston, MA. Jon Russo of iPass will be speaking on a panel talking about OSS Issues for Converged Networks.

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