Aventail gives remote access users more options

Seattle-based Aventail Corp. introduced a new platform to its OnDemand service this week. Beginning April 30, the company will provide Java secure sockets layer (SSL) virtual private network (VPN) technology to support anywhere, anytime access to corporate networks on a Pocket PC.

Jude O’Reilley, director of product marketing for the Seattle-based company said this new version delivers the first SSL VPN to secure PDAs as securely as a traditional desktop or corporate laptop.

O’Reilley said this advancement is important because today’s PDA user isn’t the corporate, middle-aged, travelling salesperson that has been traditionally thought of as the only person who would benefit from remote access technology.

“Remote access people are more everyday users that may or may not have a business reason to travel, (or) they might just have a business reason to access resources when they are not in the office,” O’Reilley said. “There is an increasing number of users that are relying not on the corporate laptop, but on things like mobile PDAs like the Pocket PC to get access back to corporate resources.”

According to O’Reilley, SSL VPN is a security technology that provides the opportunity to bring the Pocket PC into the corporate remote access infrastructure.

“SSL VPN makes access secure enough that [a company] can provide access over the intranet to a very broad range of applications. SSL VPN gives the opportunity to provide access not just to that 15 or 30 per cent of workers that are travelling users, but to that much broader group of users we call day-extenders…people that extend their day by doing additional work at home,” he said.

O’Reilley explained that PDAs haven’t traditionally had access to the corporate enterprise network, which has made the devices little more than glorified address books or calendars, but this advancement in SSL VPN will allow people to use PDAs for “real work.”

Eddie Chan, research analyst, hardware with IDC Canada in Toronto, noted that although workers can do everything on a PDA that they could on notebooks, it’s going to take a lot more time before corporations start treating PDAs as replacements instead of complements.

“It’s not going to be anytime [soon] where [PDAs] become truly acceptable…part of it is display, part of it is that people are accustomed to using a full-sized keyboard…for the masses it’s going to take some time for the technology to migrate,” Chan said.

O’Reilly said Aventail’s customers are, for the most part, multi-nationals with operations all over North America including a significant amount of Canadian customers.

Pricing for the Pocket PC supported Aventail OnDemand starts at US$24,000 and includes Web-based access to Web applications and to file-shares integrated with a company’s directory and managed with a company’s policy.

The company is on the Web at www.aventail.com.