Rugby World Cup scores secured with SSL VPN

Some 1500 Rugby World Cup field staff will be updating match scores and other statistics during the tournament securely with an SSL VPN solution, according to Nortel Networks Australia and New Zeland director of enterprise sales support Andrew Cook.

Cook described the Rugby World Cup Web site as a “fairly large site” that requires a lot of work with regard to the background information it offers.

“The site has a large database of information and there are now up to 1500 people updating it constantly,” Cook said. “Since there is a need for security and scalability we are providing rugbyworldcup.com with the ability to provide secure remote access.”

Nortel Networks provided Unisys – the company behind the Web site project – with three Alteon application switches that support SSL acceleration for the VPN used by the field staff.

“The big advantage of an SSL VPN over an IPSec VPN is that no installation or administration of client applications is required,” Cook said. “Most browsers support SSL and for 80 to 90 per cent of VPN requirements it is adequate. SSL VPNs are flexible solutions that are easy to deploy.”

Cook said Unisys expects four billion visits to the Rugby World Cup Web site and 10 million page views per week.

“We did a lot of sizing for this project and the Alteon switch firewalls are more than capable,” he said. “The firewall uses Check Point but offers far greater capacity. For example, 500,000 SSL key exchanges per second can be processed, and can scale to 255 devices in a cluster.”

According to Cook, the Alteon clusters are highly available so if one device were to fail the others would take over.

“The Alteon supports authentication via external databases so it will fit in with existing infrastructure,” he said.

Regarding the cost differences between an SSL and IPSec VPN, Cook said the entry costs are equivalent but a more rapid ROI will be experienced with SSL VPNs as the cost of administering the remote clients is less.

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