Secure wireless notebook on route to channel

A wireless service says it will launch a channel program this month for its secure remote desktop access offering, which it has been selling direct since June.

Route1 Inc., a Toronto-based company, is currently selling or leasing specially configured laptops through it sales force to use its

MobiNet service. Target markets include governments and highly regulated industries with high security needs.

However, Jeff Cohen, the company’s director of North American channel sales, said it is finalizing a channel program for resellers to take on the bulk of the sales work. After that its staff will only do demand generation, he said.

Most wireless laptop activity involves exchanging and synchronizing data between the device and a corporate server or desktop. MobiNet lets users connect directly to applications on their desktops through an encrypted connection secured through PKI certificates.

No data is stored locally. As a result, said Cohen, if the laptop is lost or stolen nothing of value goes astray.Initially, the only way to take advantage of MobiNet is by buying or leasing a MobiBook Pro laptop, a lightweight Windows CE notebook made by Psion Teklogix. The 1,100 g. (2.4 lb.) unit has a touch screen, a full keyboard and flash memory for storage.

It comes with connectivity for WiFi’s 802.11b standard, but with optional PC cards can be linked to GSM/GPRS and CDMA 1xRTT networks.

The MobiBook costs $1,999, plus $240 a year for the MobiNet service. Customers can also lease the laptop on a three-year term for $199 a month, which includes unlimited service.

Resellers will get a yet-to-be specified piece of the recurring charge.

While the MobiBook may appeal to customers who are looking for a lightweight laptop, the company knows many businesses already have a big investment in notebooks.

According to Josef Zankowicz, Route1’s vice-president of marketing and communications, the company hopes to have available in the fall a solution letting customers use the service on their own laptops.

It also hopes to be able to find ways of making other portable devices able to use the service.

The channel program will have three levels, Cohen said. The highest level, tentatively called platinum, will be for partners who will offer full customer service, keep some laptop inventory, be able to share in marketing spending with Route1 and serve multiple markets.

Gold partners will have to offer some technical support and be able to handle first level customer service calls, while value-added partners will essentially be resellers of the service.

At press time Cohen said Route1 had some memorandums of understandings with several Canadian system integrators. He also said the company wants to expand quickly into the U.S.While companies can set up the MobiNet service to run on their corporate servers, it can also run on blade servers, Zankowicz said, taking even more of a load off desktops. So far, however, it only runs on Windows-based servers and desktops.

The service offers many advantages above security, he said, including the fact that there is “very little” corporate management required. “We use the video signal from the host computer as a way of controlling the applications and data on your desktop,” he explained.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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