Microsoft is teaming up with Whale Communications to support a hybrid IPSec and SSL VPN appliance for large businesses.Called Whale Intelligent Application Gateway, the appliance will be based on Whale hardware and SSL VPN software in tandem with Microsoft ISA Server 2004's IPSec VPN, caching, Web proxy and compression.The device sits behind corporate firewalls, where it can screen traffic at the application layer as it terminates incoming traffic protected by either SSL or IPSec tunnels. This gives businesses more flexibility in the access methods available to remote users.Whale already has a fistful of non-Web applications for which it provides secure Web support via SSL. With the addition of the Microsoft software, it will be able to support Layer 2 access between sites and among business partners as well. Access can be controlled using Microsoft's Active Directory policies, making it simpler to set up because individuals' policy entries don't have to be entered on the appliance itself.The appliance will also be able to inspect at the application layer traffic that is being tunneled via IPSec. Generally, IPSec gateways terminate the tunnel and route the traffic on to its destination without scanning its content.This new appliance can support businesses with up to 5,000 users and is unique in its support for both IPSec and SSL. This is something customers will at least want to play around with if they can get their hands on one or catch a demo at a trade show.Whale Intelligent Application Gateway will be available by the end of the month and pricing starts at $15,000.