Fiberlink claims to have tamed two sysadmin bug-bears, by offering a client for Windows Mobile and integrating the free peer-to-peer email product Skype in its remote access software.
Staff are increasingly using handhelds, and they need to be brought under IT control, said marketing head William Wagner. He also predicted a victory for Microsoft in that field, which could reduce the number of devices he will have to support: "Microsoft will ultimately rule that world," he said. "Analysts are predicting the death of Symbian."
Gartner reported that 1.5 million Windows Mobile devices shipped in the first quarter of 2005, although its dominance is still in PDAs, not the faster-growing smartphones.
The company aims to turn Skype into a more business-friendly service. "We're turning Skype from a pest into a tool," said Wagner. "Although Skype is a consumer product, they came to us because their research showed that three out of ten people were using it for work."
Analysts including Gartner have praised Skype's cost-saving potential, but criticised it for poor support and security and - basically - for being a consumer product. In its service - which we think should be called "Skype in a suit", Fiberlink is moving on both issues.
Skype will be available directly from Fiberlink's Extend 360 secure mobile client, and bills for off-net ("SkypeOut") calls can be aggregated onto the corporate communications bill, instead of trickling into the company through individuals using PayPal.
Extend 360 is the company's main product.Somewhat similar to the access front-ends of companies like iPass and GoRemote, it gathers together a users' access methods in one place, lets the user choose the best method, and applies security policies. The difference is that FiberLink sells it as a separate product, instead of majoring on connectivity, explained Wagner. The company still makes the majority of its money from selling network services, but the software now provides 35 percent of its income.
Fiberlink has been active in Europe for three years, without much public exposure, said Wagner. "We have seen a difference here. More interest in 3G, and less concern about Wi-Fi and security," he said. "But that difference is getting less.