WorldCom broadens its VPN services

WorldCom Inc. last week announced a series of additions to its global virtual private network (VPN) offerings, including an IP-based VPN service that uses routers made by Cisco Systems Inc.

The new capabilities include a service that provides access to frame-relay networks via WorldCom's IP-based UUnet network, plus Ethernet and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) access options for VPN users.

Such services were designed to widen the VPN choices available to the struggling company's customers, said Jim DeMerlis, vice president of product management at WorldCom. "There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all VPN," DeMerlis said.

Service Expansion

The Cisco-based IP VPN is available immediately in the U.S. for a monthly fee of US$1,895 per site for a T1 link. WorldCom has been offering an IP VPN service that uses routers made by Lucent Technologies Inc. for the past three years. But DeMerlis said the Cisco technology should expand the service into more applications.

Daniel Mittler, director of technology and systems at Realm Business Solutions Inc., said the developer of applications for real estate agents has been using WorldCom's IP VPN service on Lucent routers since March. Using the VPN instead of frame-relay connections lowered Realm's monthly network costs from $45,000 to $12,000, according to Mittler.

Mittler said it might make sense for Realm to switch to the Cisco routers, since Realm is primarily a Cisco shop. But he said there's no urgent need to change the VPN at the company, which is moving its headquarters from New York to Dallas at the end of next month.

Mittler said he's pleased with WorldCom's service levels, despite the network operator's financial difficulties and Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing. "They won't turn down the lights," he said.

Realm used the former Exodus Communications Inc. as a network service provider until that company filed for bankruptcy protection last fall and sold most of its assets to Cable & Wireless PLC. Although WorldCom has also filed for Chapter 11, Mittler said his experience with the events at Exodus has made him less anxious because Realm wasn't hit by any service disruptions before changing carriers.

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