Internet Protocol-based virtual private network (IP-VPN) implementations are set to snowball with IT professionals claiming they have immediate ROI (return on investment) potential to meet increasing demand for more efficient networks.
Industry analyst IDC expects IP-based networks to become mainstream within five years, predicting that the $A516 million industry will grow to $2.1 billion by 2006.
IDC's infrastructure and communications research director, Joel Martin, said a recent survey of 250 medium-to-large enterprises found up to 70 per cent were either deploying an IP-VPN or planning to do so within the next two years. He said VPNs are secure, allowing companies to develop applications that can be shared with partners.
"Web applications and services will finally start to happen as companies can provide access to inventory, not just the Internet," Martin said.
An Optus survey of 70 organisations with operations in Australia who had deployed some form of IP-VPN found that about 50 per cent are single-site networks while 20 per cent connect more than 25 sites. Nearly 70 per cent provide remote access to home workers and 13 per cent include PKI security using smart cards.
The survey found that built-in authentication, encryption and firewalls in managed IP-VPN services remain the predominant security standard for most IP-VPN-based business.
An IT manager from a consulting company, who requested anonymity, said his organisation plans to deploy an IP-VPN within the next two years to lower the cost of digital communications, to have better inherent security, and for voice-over-IP (VoIP) applications.
"An IP-VPN will provide greater bandwidth, greater geographical spread of offices and greater pace of business change, and is a cheaper alternative with a quicker set-up time. It wouldn't really have an impact on core competency, as it's more of an ROI issue," he said.
The Optus survey found that by the end of 2003, 44 per cent of companies surveyed plan to have GPRS mobile wireless extensions for their IP-VPN, and almost half (44 per cent) will support access via handheld devices.