Cisco supports managed IPsec services

Cisco Systems Inc. is tuning up service provider management of VPNs by adding support for IPSec in its Cisco VPN Solution Center software.

The VPN Solution Center management platform was introduced in 1999, but until now it only supported MPLS-based VPNs. With the addition of IPSec support, Cisco says service providers can provision a wider variety of VPN services quickly.

Cisco's carrier-class management of IPSec VPNs is following behind similar support by other vendors of IPSec VPN equipment, including Lucent. In fact, WorldCom Inc. already uses Lucent Technologies Inc. gear to support IPSec VPN services. But with the availability of Cisco's VPN Solution Center version 2.0, WorldCom plans to base IPSec services on Cisco equipment as well, says Janel Crabtree, director of IP VPN services for WorldCom.

End users that want to use the Internet as a backbone for corporate applications tend to use an IPSec service, whereas those looking to use IP more on WAN links currently served by frame relay or ATM tend to use MPLS-based VPN services, Crabtree says. Cisco gear also anchors WorldCom's MPLS-based VPNs, she says.

VPN Service Center allows providers to manage multiple Cisco VPN routers for multiple customers. Before this new release, Cisco's IPSec VPN management tools were geared toward enterprises, she says.

Also new with VPN Service Center 2.0 is integration with software written by other vendors that give service providers more tools they need to rollout services.

For instance, Cisco is partnering with Micromuse Inc., Syndesis Ltd. and Digiquant Inc. for supplemental software that performs fault management, provisioning and billing, respectively. Cisco is teaming up with Concord Communications Inc. and Visual Networks Inc. to do network performance monitoring.

Some of these products have been integrated, and integration with others will roll out over the next six months, Cisco says.

Billing information would enable WorldCom to develop services that, for example, would offer varying levels of service quality that are charged based on usage, Crabtree says.

In an unrelated announcement, Cisco is introducing an acceleration card for its 2600 router that improves the router's VPN performance. The card boosts DES-3 Encryption from 6M bit/sec to 10M bit/sec and increases the number of IPSec VPN tunnels supported from 300 to 800.

The acceleration card costs US$2,000 and is available in the US now.

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