F5 spruiks SSL VPN

F5 spruiks SSL VPN

F5 Networks is conducting an East Coast roadshow this week for customers and resellers, spruiking its recently acquired SSL VPN technology.

In October, F5 paid $US25 million for small SSL virtual private network (VPN) maker, uRoam. The acquisition provided the opportunity for F5 to broaden from SSL acceleration and load balancing specialist into SSL remote access thanks to uRoam’s FirePass product.

F5 managing director, Les Howarth, said the purchase of uRoam was important in establishing an SSL VPN product, as opposed to IPSec based VPNs. The latter typically require the installation and management of client software whether it be on a PDA, notebook or other remote device.

While IPsec VPNs provide broad, flexible network-level access, SSL VPNs let remote users access specific applications over an intranet or the Internet using a Web browser. Using FirePass, a remote machine with a standard Web browser connects to a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) proxy server located behind a corporate firewall. The remote machine then authenticates and establishes an SSL session that is proxied to the target server for access to files, email and Web-based applications.

With FirePass, software companies can limit access for a user logging on from an Internet kiosk, for example, compared to those logging in from a notebook in a hotel room. Additionally, admins are able to create user groups that have certain access to a corporate network.

Howarth said uRoam had been developing and then selling its FirePass SSL VPN product since 1996. Although F5 could have developed such technology, but it would have taken time.

“By acquiring uRoam we had all the nuts and bolts [of SSL VPNS] fixed," he said. "We have a mature product. It is already built, we just have to bring it here [to Australia].”

Previously, uRoam only sold FirePass in the US.

Vendors who already offer SSL remote access gear include Neoteris, Aspelle, Aventail and Whale Communications.

At the Sydney roadshow (other stops include Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne), the company showed several versions of the FirePass VPN. The FirePass 1000 series, which can support up to 100 concurrent users is priced at $15,000. The FirePass 4000, which supports 1000 concurrent users, costs $35,000.

The sole distributor for the gear is Tech Pacific, and the products are available now.

(Tim Greene and Alan Radding contributed to this report.)

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