BALTIMORE (07/07/2000) - Customers who don't want to upgrade every PC in their network to Windows 2000 but are looking to base their corporate VPN on Windows 2000 Server can now do so with the help of Information Resource Engineering (IRE).
IRE this week will release a new version of its VPN client software that is compatible with Win 2000 Server and can support clients for earlier Windows operating systems. Using IRE's SafeNet/ Soft-PK VPN client Version 5.0, customers can support Windows 95, 98 and NT PCs so they will interoperate with VPNs based on Win 2000 Server, IRE says.
Without such support, customers would have to upgrade every remote PC to Win 2000, a daunting task, says Jeff Wilson, an analyst with Infonetics Research in San Jose.
IRE, which has focused on IP VPNs since 1995, is the No. 2 maker of VPN clients, behind Microsoft Corp. Microsoft clients have had VPN capabilities since 1995. IRE, a $23 million company, has sold VPN client software since 1995, and its technology is integrated in VPN equipment made by 3Com Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Internet Dynamics, Nokia Corp./Network Alchemy and Lucent Technologies Inc., among others.
SafeNet/Soft-PK has some management features that Win 2000's client lacks, he says. For example, if a user wants to alter the security policies for an entire group of users, IRE has the tools to do so; Microsoft does not.
The new client also supports non-IP clients on an IP VPN. Part of supporting Win 2000 Server requires SafeNet/Soft-PK to support Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), which is integral to the most secure type of VPN Win 2000 supports.
Unlike other tunneling protocols, L2TP encapsulates the original packet in a separate IP packet. So NetBEUI or IPX packets, for example, can be wrapped in a L2TP IP packet that can cross an IP VPN.
Version 5 also has a new keep-alive feature that automatically reestablishes VPN sessions when they are interrupted. Remote users are required to do nothing to reestablish the session, IRE says. So if a security association needed to maintain a session that expired and ended the session, a new one would be set up.
The new client also can be configured with logon information for more than one VPN server. If the primary server is unavailable, the client will automatically seek a backup.
SafeNet/Soft-PK is available for $79 per client. Upgrades from earlier versions cost $39 per client.