Trio spruce up VPN offerings

Three companies have unveiled products and services for virtual private networks, including an extranet service, antivirus policy...

Three companies have unveiled products and services for virtual private networks, including an extranet service, antivirus policy enforcement and a managed VPN service for small businesses.

A VPN is a secure method of using the Internet to connect to a remote location as if the user were on a private network.

OpenReach launched a secure extranet service, OpenReach Extranet, allowing companies to use any standard Intel-based PC to allow multiple extranet connections from different companies.

Companies can set up, configure and manage IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) VPNs for their partners. Normally, extranets require that the partner companies both have VPN boxes at their locations and that each different extranet partner be assigned a separate box, so if a company has extranets set up with three other companies, it would have to install three individual extranet boxes.

OpenReach Extranet eliminates the need for multiple boxes because it allows administrators to define which companies have access to what resources by adding the name of the device to be connected with to an instant messenger-style "buddy list". When both companies check off a box on the buddy list, the extranet connection is created.

When the connection is initiated, both boxes send traffic to OpenReach's network operations centre, which passes along all the IP address information, certificates and policies needed to create the extranet, he said. All administrators need to configure is the IP addresses of their internal network and the names of the devices to be connected to.

Access control lists then limit what network addresses the partner company can see, he said. Once the extranet connection is established, all traffic runs directly between the two sites and does not go through OpenReach's servers, he added.

The extranet capability is available to all existing OpenReach customers and can be downloaded via the OpenReach management console. All OpenReach services, including the new one, cost between US$75 (£52) and $2,000 (£1,373) a month based on the connection.

ClearPath Networks offered service designed to bring an affordable VPN to small and medium-sized businesses.

iVPN, will offer businesses data, voice and multimedia VPN services using ClearPath's MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) network. MPLS allows packets sent using it to include some routing information in their headers, thus cutting down on the amount of time needed to route them to their destination.

Users will install a router from ClearPath at their locations and then use their existing Internet connection for the service. The router will be configured with the address of ClearPath servers, to which all data will be sent and then routed to its destination, he said.

The services start at $184 (£126) a month, plus the cost of Internet access, for the data service. Pricing for the voice and multimedia services was not immediately available.

Fiberlink Communications has upgraded its Global Remote remote access client that will allow the software to recognise antivirus software from Symantec and deny access to corporate networks to users that are not running antivirus software. The latest version of the software will be available in July.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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