Funk Upgrades Client

By Eric Griffith

March 29, 2004

The Odyssey 802.1X software for authenticating via PCs and PDAs has been updated to handle GSM, client provisioning, and even support for Novell networks.

802.1X authentication on wireless (or even wired) networks is one of the few proven ways to ensure the users on your network are who they say they are -- the technology checks users against a listing in a RADIUS server. To get logged on, end-users must be running a piece of client software, called a "supplicant" in 802.1X parlance. One of the leading supplicant's available has just been released in a new, updated version with several new features.

Funk Software of Cambridge, Mass., says its Odyssey Client v 3.0 upgrade something the company calls "Enterprise Wireless Client Provisioning."

Kevin Walsh, the company's director of product management, says the technology is "all about management from a client perspective."

Using this provisioning service, IT managers can pre-configure the client software before it is deployed --- that way, once the software is installed on laptops or PDAs, its ready to go without further settings adjustments.

Pre-configuring is done in the Odyssey Client Administration (OCA) tool, which Funk started shipping with the 2.0 version. Walsh says the OCA "has more meat now," such as handling multiple customization images -- say one for marketing, another for IT.

Pushing policies down to clients from a central server will come in future editions.

End users with the 3.0 client can be prevented from changing any of the client settings, a feature many IT staffers crave. This can, for example, prevent peer-to-peer/ad hoc wireless networks from cropping up in the office between end-users.

"Think of it as a sliding scale," says Walsh. "On the left is a product with no rules. On the other end is a client where the users can't do anything -- it's a corporate device for corporate use only. We don't define the rules, administrators can pick them for their organization."

Funk has also added in support at customer request for systems running the Novell Client for Windows.

Last week, Funk said that the client is now available to mobile wireless carriers using deploying GSM networks. This was announced in conjunction with Funk's new server gateway for GSM carriers. The Odyssey client can operate in Wi-Fi, cellular GSM, and a number of other networks types, automatically detecting the type of connection available. Use under GSM can be handled with SIM-based authentication (used overseas more than in North America); likewise the client supports EAP-types of TLS, TTLS, PEAP, and LEAP. Odyssey client runs on Windows 98/2000/XP an Pocket PC 2002/Windows Mobile 2003. Odyssey Client is $50 individually, or less when ordered in quantity.

Funk also makes 802.1X server software -- the Odyssey Server software will be getting a new release in a couple of months, as well as the high-end Steel-Belted RADIUS product -- but the Funk supplicant will work with any RADIUS server.

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