Global Crossing rolls out VPN products

Global Crossing Ltd. this week introduced a suite of VPN services that offers customers secure access with guaranteed quality of service over the carrier's backbone.

Global Crossing unveiled its SmartRoute and ExpressRoute VPN services, which are part of the company's IP VPN suite that will include four offerings by year-end.

"We're seeing a lot of customers using more IP VPNs," says Steven Harris, analyst at International Data Corp. A recent study by the market research firm shows 47 percent of 400 WAN managers surveyed are using IP VPNs or have plans to do so.

SmartRoute is a network-based VPN that offers users IP Security encryption, classes of service and bandwidth management support. It's considered a network-based VPN because all of the intelligence, including security and policy rules, is supported within Global Crossing's network. The carrier is using Nortel Shasta 5000 Broadband Service Nodes to support SmartRoute over its ATM backbone.

SmartRoute is designed to offer legacy frame relay, private line and ATM customers a migration path to an IP environment. "Customers don't need additional equipment to support this service. It has a phenomenal migration path from frame relay to IP VPN," says John Longo, vice president of data services.

Global Crossing is also offering users three levels of service based on ATM's inherent classes of service. The classes include premium for real-time voice traffic, enhanced for business data traffic, and basic for standard Internet access traffic.

The service provider is offering service-level agreements for each class. "Premium" guarantees 99.99 percent availability, less than 0.1 percent packet loss and that users will not experience more than 35 milliseconds of packet jitter. "Enhanced" guarantees 99.9 percent availability and less than 0.5 percent packet loss, and "basic" guarantees 99.5 percent availability and less than 1 percent packet loss.

SmartRoute is available in 400 cities in 78 countries. Customers with fractional T-1 connections, up to T-3, can purchase the service that costs about US$1,600 to $2,300 per month for a T-1.

The carrier is also introducing its ExpressRoute VPN service that uses Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) to dedicate paths for specific VPNs. The service is based on the Internet Engineering Task Force's RFC 2547 specification. This is a standard that uses Border Gateway Protocol to generate information about each MPLS VPN on a service provider's network. This flavor of VPN creates and stores routing tables for each VPN on routers and switches throughout the carrier's backbone. Critics say that storing and managing hundreds or thousands of VPN routing tables is too cumbersome for an entire network, but Global Crossing disagrees.

"We have separated our traffic by deploying separate routers that are just VPN routers vs. Internet routers," says Mike Fuqua, vice president of data product development. The service provider is using Juniper routers at the edge of its IP network to support its MPLS VPN service. These devices are solely dedicated to its MPLS VPN traffic, which will give each device enough power to maintain multiple VPNs simultaneously.

Global Crossing also offers a 99.9 percent availability guarantee for its ExpressRoute service, including a packet loss guarantee of less than 0.5 percent.

This service is geared toward users that have higher bandwidth needs. Customers can use T-1, OC-12 or Gigabit Ethernet connections to construct their ExpressRoute VPN. The service is available in 200 cities in 22 countries. It costs about $9,000 per month for a T-3 port with 20M bit/sec of dedicated bandwidth.

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