Net6 Cooks Up New Batch of VPN

Startup is trying out a new hybrid security technology - a mix of SSL VPN and IPSec

August 4, 2004

3 Min Read
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Startup Net6 Inc. says it has bred a Hybrid-VPN remote access that it hopes will have the qualities of both IPsec and SSL technologies (see Net6 Releases Hybrid-VPN Gateway).

Why hybrid? Well, according to Net6, you need features of both technologies, while most vendors have chosen one of the two approaches. The big appeal of an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) VPN is it enables secure access to corporate networks from virtually any Web browser, on any device, anywhere. The technology is attracting a lot of attention at the moment because, unlike IPSec VPNs, it avoids the need for changes and complex configurations on client machines.

But IPSec also has its plusses for users, such as being able to handle a larger number of applications.

Robert Whitely, analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says that one of Net6s major selling points is the fact that its devices can intercept traffic at the lower levels of the operating system stack, which gives it more of an IPSec "feel."

Founded in 2000, Net6 raised $17 million in its first two funding rounds. Its core data center offering is the HV-2000, a 1U rack-mounted device. Net6 says the product is capable of supporting up to 2,000 concurrent tunnels at a sustained throughput level of 300 Mbit/s. A scaled-down version, the HV-20, is also available for smaller firms.The devices are yet to be independently tested, although Net6 execs say they are currently getting these figures independently audited.

Enhancements to the products announced this week include a new, so-called, "remote control" feature, which enables IT administrators to take control of remote PCs without having to use third-party applications, and a new feature for monitoring applications in real-time.

David O’Berry, director of IT services at South Carolina Probation Parole and Pardon Services. has already deployed two of Net6’s Gateways at the organization’s Columbia data center.

Although one of the devices is redundant, O’Berry says that the technology has helped the organization keep in contact with its probation staff. Around 100 remote users are now linked to the device, many from laptops in local courtrooms, although this figure is set to grow.

”It’s an aggregation point for support. As probation grows, we will have 400 agents with any number of connections, whether it’s WiFi or cellular,” says O’Berry.The IT director has also tested the new features. “Remote control has been a huge benefit -- it’s a secure channel for remote diagnostics,” he says.

Despite O’Berry’s thumbs-up and the new features, Net6’s products are up against devices from established vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), which acquired NetScreen Technologies earlier this year in an attempt to boost its portfolio of security products (see Juniper/NetScreen Merger OK'd).

Although Juniper has given little away about its plans for the NetScreen product lines, Net6’s HV-2000 device will be competing directly against the vendor’s Secure Access range of SSL VPNs.

Whitley warns that, with SSL VPNs growing in popularity, Net6’s Hybrid devices may have a battle on their hands. “One potential downside to the product [is that] they resemble IPSec more than the other vendors,” he says.

”The other challenge is that they are fairly new -- they will have to battle for the market share that Cisco and Juniper have grabbed."— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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