Virtual private network products are the hot trend

ATLANTA—Virtual private networking over secured Internet connections was the
hottest trend at last month’s NetWorld+Interop trade show. At least 16 companies
announced at least 24 VPN products.


“Everybody here is selling some VPN product,” said Dayton Semerjian, senior
marketing director at Shiva Corp. of Bedford, Mass. Its three VPN announcements made the
company attractive to Intel Corp., which announced an agreement to acquire Shiva last
month.


“We see the VPN as the next wave of the Internet,” said Eric Fullerton,
business unit manager for Intel’s network systems operations.


“We used to have to peddle [VPN] technology very hard,” said George Lucas,
product manager for Fortress Technologies Inc. of Tampa, Fla. “Now people come in and
ask about encrypted throughput.”


VPNs use a variety of hardware and software technologies to authenticate, encrypt and
ensure integrity of transmissions over public networks.


Fortress touted the throughput of its forthcoming NetFortress products, claiming up to
70-Mbps encrypted rates for the VPN-100 on high-speed T3 networks and 7-Mbps encrypted
rates for the VPN-10 on T1 networks.


Shiva’s LanRover VPN Express, an entry-level hardware product, can set up as many
as 50 simultaneous encrypted tunnels for small and branch offices. The company also
brought out two new versions of its software suite for the higher-end LanRover VPN Gateway
for large networks. Shiva also is working with Clarenet Corp. of Redwood City, Calif., to
make voice over IP products for VPNs.


Other VPN announcements included simultaneous multilevel-secure channels from Radguard
Inc. of Mahwah, N.J.; integrated VPN, firewall and content filtering from Sonic Systems
Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.; support for the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol from Extended
Systems Inc. of Boise, Idaho; a new encryption chip from Rainbow Technologies Inc. of
Irvine, Calif.; and a VPN on a network interface card from RedCreek Communications Inc. of
Newark, Calif.


The emergence of the Internet as a primary vehicle for electronic commerce and business
communication has fueled VPN demand, said Gretta Bruce, public relations manager for
Fortress Technologies.


Although the Net is ubiquitous and inexpensive, it is far from secure, she noted. A
market for secured links between business partners and for remote access should continue
to grow for several years, Bruce said.


Federal sites are only in the early stages of adoption, lagging behind the commercial
sector, said Ray Suarez, product marketing manager for Axent Technologies Inc. of
Rockville, Md., which is incorporating VPN features in its newly acquired Raptor
firewalls. The cost of direct dial-in access for remote offices, field workers and
telecommuters has spurred government’s interest in VPNs, he said.


No one is throwing away modems yet, Shiva’s Semerjian said, “but they are
going to pilot VPNs.”


Intel’s Fullerton predicted that network industry consolidation will accelerate in
the next year as leading players grab for VPN technology to protect their market share.


The ideal in terms of network security would be an all-in-one product that combines the
functions of a VPN, firewall, access controller and event monitor.


The biggest hurdle is combining effective performance with ease of use. For speed and
performance, hardware beats software, she said, but for content screening, firewalls and
intrusion detection, “the more elegant products exist in software,” Bruce
said.  

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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