AEP delivers low-cost SSL gear

* AEP's SureWare A-Gate enters overcrowded market

Last December we highlighted AEP Systems, a newcomer to the Secure Sockets Layer remote access market that was developing low-cost SSL gear for enterprises. Well, the company says that the gear, called SureWare A-Gate, is now shipping and that it can handle up to 100 concurrent remote users for the sum of $5,000.

The way the equipment works is similar to how equipment made by some of its competitors work. If a corporate application is Web enabled, remote users can access it securely over the Internet using a standard Web browser. The SureWare A-Gate appliance acts as a proxy between the remote machine and the server, setting up SSL sessions to protect the data.

The limitation on this box is that if you have a non-Web application, you can't reach it from a simple Web browser unless you send down a Java or ActivX agent to listen to and act for the application on the remote machine. Many SSL remote access vendors do this already; AEP does not.

But AEP seems to be following a familiar evolutionary path of offering support for Web-based applications and then expanding to non-Web applications. The company is promising soon an update that will support Lotus Notes and Microsoft's Outlook clients.

The company also promises other upgrades including high-availability/failover options and support for more, unspecified applications.

AEP is coming to the SSL remote access party later than most and, according to industry analysts, the market is already overcrowded. Long-term, there won't be enough customers to support all the vendors. AEP's strengths are that it offers a low price and two as yet unfulfilled promises. The first is support for all the applications that users could connect to over an IPSec remote access VPN and the second is a scheme to take remote control of a corporate desktop securely via AEP gear and a Web browser.

These will be interesting developments to look for.

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