Virtual Private Networks Get Easier, Cheaper

SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - Two companies are rolling out managed VPN services that attempt to address two big stumbling blocks with VPNs: the cost and difficulty associated with implementing them.

Wakefield, Massachusetts-based OpenReach Inc. next week will launch its TrueSpan Software managed VPN service, which boils down required VPN elements into software that can be downloaded from the company's Web site onto a floppy disk. Once the floppy is inserted in any Intel-based PC, the computer acts as a network router, connecting an entire company to the VPN service, OpenReach officials said.

On the other end, anything that communicates with TCP/IP can be connected to the service, company officials said, including PCs, Macs, or Unix systems.

The TrueSpan service works via any type of Internet access method, such as cable, DSL, or T1, and with any ISP, officials said.

The service can break down barriers to entry for VPN services for small and midsize businesses because it does not require any investment in hardware or maintenance from internal IT staff, TrueSpan officials said.

According to analyst Heather Ashton, director of electronic business strategies at Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Massachusetts, connecting partners and suppliers is a big challenge facing large companies. Doing this through an extranet can be time-consuming, costly, and limiting in regard to what content is shared and to how many partners.

"[The TrueSpan] service changes the game and allows you to inexpensively and easily connect with [partners], which enhances the relationships. It makes true on the ability of the Internet to connect seamlessly with businesses partners and suppliers. And, more than just [sharing] documents through an extranet, with [OpenReach] you can share more types of content [such as] applications and files," Ashton said.

Meanwhile, GTE spin-off Genuity this week rolled out its Secure VPN Remote Access Suite, which bundles its managed VPN services, remote access, and dedicated Internet connectivity with Nortel Networks' Contivity VPN technology.

By combining the various services and pieces of equipment that are needed to implement a VPN, the product set is designed to offer enterprises a one-stop shop for connectivity and secure remote access, according to Genuity officials.

"This [offering] means one provider, one bill. We do the internal integration work to present the customer with a seamless experience," said Jeff Aliber, senior product marketing manager for security services at Genuity, in Burlington, Massachusetts. "What we are hearing loudly is companies want a secure remote access solution, something complete they can take right off the shelf. The market has been asking us for this."

Available now, Genuity's Secure VPN Remote Access Suite is priced at US$20 per month per user, plus additional charges for installation and CPE equipment.

TrueSpan also is available now, free of charge. Services start at $99 per month, per location.

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