Whale announces hybrid VPN appliance

Whale Communications has announced a hybrid remote network access appliance that combines its own gateway product with Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004.

The integration of the two will allow Whale to offer both IPSec VPN and SSL VPN in a single appliance, which Whale calls the Intelligent Application Gateway Powered by ISA. Pricing starts at US$15,000, and the product is available now.

Peter Greco, CIO at Regis University in Colorado, said he is "pretty sure" he will be installing the new product in January, starting with a campus in Las Vegas, where IPSec tunnelling is needed. Greco said he expects to decrease the cost of maintaining networks between remote sites and the main campus and said the addition of Microsoft ISA server functions is helpful, since many of the university's applications are based on Microsoft products, he said.

Greco first became familiar with Whale's products two years ago because of the vendor's SSL VPN capabilities, which the university chose over several larger providers. "There are many SSL VPN providers out there, such as F5 [Networks Inc.], and they're all great companies," he said. "But Whale did things the others did not, and they have a much lighter client" software.

Even though Whale is smaller than some other VPN providers, "they have had a great track record so far," he said.

Whale, employs about 100 people, has about 400 large business customers, according to a spokeswoman.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, said the managed VPN provider market will total about US$2 billion in North America this year and is growing worldwide. He said the revenue leaders are Juniper Networks, F5 and Aventail.

The latest trend in VPN software is to add the ability to continually adjust to applications that are running, a function that BT Infonet and AT&T have already announced, Kerravala said.

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