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Work wherever, however, whatever

Apr 28, 20033 mins
Network SecurityRemote AccessSecurity

Gric MobileOffice bundles dial up, Wi-Fi, broadband and VPN services.

Gric MobileOffice bundles dial up, Wi-Fi, broadband and VPN services

I consider myself a mobile worker, but I really only work where I can get an Internet connection. That limits me to home, the occasional hot spot and hotels, where, by the way, there’s still way too much dial-up. Wouldn’t it be great to just . . . connect?

Gric Communications is working on it. The company, which has sold enterprise worldwide dial services for years, last summer released its MobileOffice service. At its core, MobileOffice is a hosted remote-access service with a bunch of partnerprovided services. Applications include Gric Meeting, a Web meeting service using WebEx; GricSFA, a sales tool from UpShot; and Gric Expense & Time, a billing service by OpenAir. For security, Gric relies on Secure Sockets Layer, encryption and integration with existing VPN products.

Earlier this month, Gric debuted a managed VPN and firewall service, using technology from Blue Ridge Networks. Gric handles round-the-clock operation, and a management console provides network executives with the ability to push out security policies to individual users or groups.

Gric also is stepping up the types of access it offers. Gric’s dial-up access business includes 20,000 points of presence in 150 countries. A while back, Gric debuted broadband service via Wi-Fi hot spots. Thus far, it has 1,200 access points in 14 countries; 68 airports in seven countries; seven convention centers in four countries and 485 hotels in six countries.

But what about home-based workers? Earlier this month, Gric announced a new version of MobileOffice that includes cable and DSL provisioning for enterprise teleworkers through an unannounced aggregator-partner.

New management console features help IT managers enforce corporate security policies. For instance, a policy can be set that ensures remote workers always launch the VPN when accessing the corporate network or to kill the connection if the VPN tunnel is lost.

What’s compelling about MobileOffice is that as Gric adds more applications, you don’t pay extra. Of course, if you contract for the managed VPN or broadband services, you have to pay for that.

But otherwise, the service costs $25 per user, per month for 150 hours of dial-up usage and five hours of Wi-Fi. For more Wi-Fi time you can get the $40 package.

Users deal with a single interface, and IT managers deal with a single service for managing multiple connections. Users simply click on the client software and check off the connection method they need, whether it be broadband, dial-up or Wi-Fi. Using multiple services saves money.

“If I use DSL at home, and dial up and Wi-Fi while traveling, it costs me about $120 per month,” says Bharat Davé, CEO of Gric. “But with the Gric bundled service, I’d save about 30% or more depending on usage.”

What’s next for Gric? Maybe a voice-over-IP application, Davé says.

“When I’m in Japan, I go crazy because my phones don’t work because the standards are different. But I can always get a good IP data connection,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could put a little soft-phone connection in there and just dial out?”

It sure would be.