NAB tries Telstra's remote access solution

About 400 National Australia Bank (NAB) staff are participating in a trial of Telstra's new, multiple-network, single sign-on solution designed to reduce the access barrier for remote and off-site workers.

Developed by mobile connectivity software vendor iPass in conjunction with Telstra's Innovation Centre, the Telstra Remote Working solution allows single sign-on across fixed-line and wireless networks.

Telstra managing director of convergent solutions, Lynda O'Grady, said so far it has had "phenomenal" feedback from large enterprises, including the NAB. O'Grady claimed the bank has successfully completed a proof-of-concept and will deploy the solution to its road warriors in the future.

"The companies have been coming to us because the solution was needed," O'Grady said, adding Telstra is developing a tailored solution for large enterprises in addition to an "off the shelf" version, which is due mid 2006.

About 30 organizations are "almost pushing" the solution, which "was needed for some considerable time", into their enterprises, she said.

NAB spokesperson Megan Lane confirmed some 400 employees of the bank are doing a proof-of-concept with the solution, but stressed "no decision has been made as to whether the bank will go ahead with the concept on a larger scale".

"There are a couple of issues around tailoring remote working, because we manage our own firewalls and security internally," she said, adding that things like authentication are done inside the bank "for obvious reasons".

"We do have to tailor the approach to remote working," Lane said.

The iPass software 'sniffs' the availability of networks, including Wi-Fi, CDMA, and 3GSM, and integrates with enterprise identity management systems.

The three-year exclusive partnership between Telstra and iPass will provide roaming for business and government customers in a solution "acknowledged as unique in the world", according to O'Grady.

"Telstra Remote Working allows road warriors to connect to their own corporate networks with one password and one bill," O'Grady said, adding the solution also works in 160 countries globally. "Work is what you do, not where you are [and] instead of multiple sign-on you have a single entry point."

O'Grady said as Telstra invests in Sol Trujillo's "new world", its focus will be more towards usability and security and the Remote Working solution provides business continuity and disaster recovery by making sure people can work out of the office.

John Cunningham, iPass Australia's sales director, said with the transition from dial-up to broadband, which has paved the way for more remote workers, there is more strain on IT managers to manage networks and maintain service levels.

"Customized services can be built on iPass, which makes it easy to set up a remote office and easy for IT managers to enforce security policies over these networks," Cunningham said, adding the application also checks if the device is trusted for two-factor authentication.

"The software can check if the operating system is patched and the antivirus software is up to date."

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