Virtual private networks (VPNs), a set of technologies designed to provide low-cost, secure WAN services, had a very high profile at last week's Networld+Interop show in Atlanta.
3Com led the charge, introducing a long-awaited array of VPN solutions to run on its own access products and hardware from its US Robotics acquisition.
3Com initially will offer hardware and software for network providers to wholesale VPN services to ISPs and large enterprises. Officials said systems for virtual leased lines via ISPs, Internet-based remote access, and local-call points of presence in enterprise networks will follow next year. 3Com's TranscendWare will provide policy-based management of the VPNs.
The packages will utilise the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, the emerging IPSec encryption standard, and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service. 3Com plans to announce support for the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) soon.
To extend L2TP into LANs, the company has developed a Tunnel Switching Architecture that it will implement on LAN switches next year. Officials said the switch could allow business partners access to certain LAN resources without opening up the entire network. Shiva's VPN solution centers on the VantagePath Access Concentrator, developed with Nortel. The VantagePath Network Gateway edge switch, VantagePath management software, and VPN consulting services.
IPlanet, introduced server software to give mobile users encrypted access to any LAN resource from standard Web browsers using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) standard. RemotePassage, which runs on a Unix server, converts multiprotocol traffic into IP packets for transport over the Internet.
Future versions of SSL will include compression capability, allowing users to set up more efficient connections with RemotePassage.
Analysts said that although VPN technology is in its infancy, enterprises can gain cost and security benefits from the technology. However, they stressed the importance of carefully considering implementation plans.
"No one really knows what a VPN is yet," said John Gerard, an analyst at the GartnerGroup, in Stamford, Connecticut. "It's not clear that you won't be saddled with a bundle of VPN subsystems that are incompatible."
3Com Tel 1800 644 606 Fax 1800 673 313
Shiva Tel (02) 9959 2293 Fax (02) 9959 2244IPlanet Tel +1 (408) 745-1500TimeStep Tel +1 (613) 599-3610