Next Monday, 3Com will launch a range of products that it claims will enable companies to easily set up virtual private networks (VPNs).
VPN is a technology that gives users a series of protocols to implement a secure connection across the public network using tunnelling and encryption technologies. VPNs are also garnering attention because of some key standards.
One standard is IPSec, a protocol suite that creates a security platform. Another is Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), which delivers legacy protocols such as IPX and SNA in VPN tunnels. The two protocols are complementary. Companies such as 3Com, Cisco and Bay Networks (recently acquired by Nortel) support both standards.
Delivering on its corporate strategy, 3Com announced it will roll out the foundation of its VPN solutions with tunnel switches, which it claimed will enable customers to migrate their existing remote access and routed site-to-site networks to next generation VPNs.
The Pathbuilder S500 series tunnel switches, which includes four devices priced between $18,000 and $22,500, provide both enterprise and ISP customers with a combination of router, firewall and site-to-site VPN integration. The Pathbuilder S500 tunnel switches support more than 2,000 mobile user, site-to-site and business partner VPN tunnels simultaneously, the company said.
?It also delivers 100Mbps of wire speed encrypted bandwidth, and two to three times performance over competitive solutions,? said Frank Fuller, business line manager for remote networking solutions at 3Com.
Fuller added that the Pathbuilder tunnel switches also deliver multiprotocol routing, handling IP, IPX and other major protocols such as SNA.
In addition to the Pathbuilder S500, which is targeted for the high performance central site applications, 3Com also offers two products for branch office VPN connectivity - the Office Connect Netbuilder routers for small offices and the SuperStack II Netbuilder S+i routers for midsize branch offices.
Competition in the VPN marketplace includes products from Cisco Systems and Nortel.
Cisco?s PIX, which supports both IPSec and L2TP protocols, handles approximately 256 tunnel connections. By using the Internet Operating Software (IOS), Cisco?s policy based network management software can extend policies for the central network across a VPN link to allow third parties to access internal information securely, the company said.
And technology acquired earlier this year from New Oak Communications has been included in Nortel?s VPN solutions. The company?s VPN line includes a device that combines network access hardware with specialised software to facilitate VPN capabilities.
The entry level Contivity Extranet Switch supports 50 simultaneous remote connections, and joins additional products from the company that include a $20,000 version which supports 2,000 simultaneous connections.
A report released by Larry Dietz, a principal analyst with market research firm Current Analysis, pointed out that the ?availability of VPN features as part of a company infrastructure may induce users to implement these features more aggressively than they would have if the implementation required adding products from other vendors. The products must also be extremely to install and support.?
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