SSL-based VPN Tailored To Small Business

Low-end remote access solution has been in the works for several quarters.

August 16, 2004

2 Min Read
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Juniper Networks Inc. has extended its Instant Virtual Extranet platform to a sub-$5,000 system for small businesses, an action that may give virtual private networks (VPNs) based on Secure Sockets Layer a clear victory over Internet Protocol Secure VPNs.

Juniper's Application Security Group, the former Neoteris Inc., had planned the low-end Remote Access 500 for several quarters, but said the popularity of higher-layer SSL for VPN creation has underscored the importance of bringing such a system to small businesses.

SSL, a transaction-based Layer 7 methodology that Neoteris originally proposed as an alternative VPN to cut the cost of client implementations for virtual networks, has proved popular in large institutions as well as small, said senior product manager Chris Boni. So it's not just an issue of SSL winning at the smallest customer sites.

Boni saw a cost advantage for SSL over Internet Protocol Secure. "With IPsec, the total cost of ownership is a significant burden, no matter what the company size is," he said. "There will always be networks that can use IPsec VPNs, but in the case of SSL cost-effectiveness holds true regardless of the size of the network."

Juniper pulled out certain functions from its larger systems that would represent an overkill for small businesses, such as centralized synchronization, single-sign-on processes and links to advanced enterprise-management tools.The RA 500 will standardize on one connectivity method, offered as one option among three in larger systems. The Network Connect methodology assigns an internal IP address to a user during a session, intercepts network traffic coming to the client and re-directs it to the RA 500, and then releases the internal IP address at the end of the session.

Three members of the RA 500 line are offered, representing the maximum number of end users: 10 for the RA 510, 25 for the RA 525 and 50 for the RA 550. All three systems are packaged in a hardened, pizza-box format with no client software required. The system provides endpoint security through such features as an MD5-based hashing checksum to ensure the validity of client applications. The checksum engine is part of a "host checker" environment that performs native checks for files or versions, processes and ports on endpoint devices.

Members of the RA 500 line range in price from $4,000 to $7,000, competing directly with server-based software tools from the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Citrix Inc. Boni said that no other VPN vendor has brought in an SSL box below $7,000.

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