SSL remote access options are exploding

* Vendors readying many different options for SSL remote access

Last week was quite a week for Secure Sockets Layer remote access alternatives to IPSec VPNs, with the browser-based technology earmarked to show up in a variety of new forms.

As mentioned here last week, ISP FiberLink has come out with a service based on SSL remote access technology. By teaming up with SSL hardware and software vendor Neorteris, FiberLink’s service will be functional in September.

Two makers of load-balancing/Web-acceleration gear, NetScaler and F5, are separately adding SSL remote access capabilities to their equipment. NetScaler is writing its own software to do this, and F5 is doing it through the $25 million purchase of SSL remote access vendor uRoam. NetScaler says its SSL capabilities will be ready in August. F5 says it will have uRoam’s technology integrated into its Big-IP switch next March.

This proliferation of SSL remote access options is likely being driven by predictions that demand for this technology will skyrocket in the next few years. Any vendor that can get an SSL remote access product ready soon can’t ignore the opportunity to share in this expected spending, which could top $1 billion a year in 2007.

This leaves end users with their work cut out for them. If the market indeed will blossom, more of them must want to buy this technology. And it seems that as time goes by, there are more and more options to evaluate. They break down into categories:

* SSL remote-access-only vendors. Aspelle, Neoteris, SafeWeb and others do nothing else, and a user looking for SSL remote access can buy this gear to solve a single problem.

* Vendors with SSL acceleration expertise that also enable remote access, such as NetScaler, F5 and Array. These are more difficult choices because they offer more options. Users will have to assess their needs to see whether they actually need the extra options and higher SSL speeds they offer.

* Security and networking vendors expanding into SSL remote access, such as Check Point, Nokia, Nortel and - later this year - Cisco. Current customers of these vendors are likely to give their SSL options a close look simply because they have existing relationships, and there may be real benefits of integrating with their other gear.

* Service providers such as FiberLink and OpenReach that take care of managing the remote access. This may be a good option for those who want to test the water at a predictable monthly cost and leave themselves an option to get out after a set term if the technology doesn’t meet their needs.

In any case, SSL remote access lives in a more complicated world that requires more effort to navigate than it used to.

Learn more about this topic

F5 buys uRoam to strengthen access and authentication offering

Network World Fusion, 07/23/03

NetScaler upgrades SSL remote access

Network World, 07/21/03

Network World Encyclopedia: SSL defined

FiberLink serves up SSL remote access

Network World, 07/28/03

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