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Survey reveals rapid adoption of SSL VPNs for remote access

Companies are increasingly deploying Secure Sockets Layer virtual private networks to provide remote access to corporate systems, a study from Forrester Research has found.

SSL VPNs allow users to connect remotely to networks and applications via a browser without requiring additional software on the client device.

Although SSL VPNs have only been available for about the past 18 months, Forrester found that 39% of North American and European enterprises surveyed had  started or completed roll-outs.

The research was based on a survey of 1,007 telecoms decision-makers in North American and European companies. It found that 57% were running VPNs based on the IPSec security protocol, which require client software. 

Robert Whiteley, an analyst at Forrester Research, said, "SSL VPNs are poised for significant growth in 2006 because they provide clientless access, stronger endpoint security, and lower cost than the IPsec alternative."

IPSec VPNs are currently more widely adopted than multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and SSL, but enterprises are using SSL VPNs for next-generation remote access, he added.

One area where the survey found IPSec VPNs were still in demand was in site-to-site links. More than 50% of the enterprises surveyed had deployed or were upgrading site-to-site IPSec VPNs, with an additional 27% in an early adoption stage, Forrester found.

Whiteley said products such as Cisco's Integrated Services Router and Juniper's Netscreen-5GT, which combine firewalls, anti-virus software and IPsec VPNs, could offer users low-cost branch office connectivity.

MPLS, which has been available for several years, was least popular among the respondents - 39% said they had no plans to use it. Whiteley suggested this was because it is not based on low-cost internet connectivity, instead, MPLS requires large-scale migration of private networks from Frame Relay or ATM.

However, Whiteley said he expected more stable IP/MPLS networks to emerge that would be able to support facilities such as network-based voice over IP.


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