• United States
Executive Editor

Network World puts SSL through its paces

Jan 13, 20042 mins

* Results of Network World Global Test Alliance's test of SSL remote access gear

The Network World Global Test Alliance’s latest test results published this week are well worth the time to read if you are thinking seriously about buying into Secure Sockets Layer remote access technology.

The test put SSL remote access gear through its paces and reveals the strengths and weaknesses of equipment made by seven vendors: AEP, F5, NetScreen, Netilla, Nokia, Symantec and Whale. Joel Synder, Network World Global Test Alliance member and a senior partner at Opus One in Tucson, Ariz., carried out the study.

One of the arguments in favor of SSL remote access is that it can provide many remote users with access to most of the applications they need without installing a dedicated remote access client on their computer. Just a Web browser will do if it supports SSL. That sounds great and it can be great, but it can also serve up some surprises, as the testing revealed.

The tests Snyder ran on SSL remote access appliances uncovered important differences including:

* Not all vendors support all applications, and some have support that don’t work all the time.

* Touted as easier to use than IPSec VPNs, maintaining SSL remote access may actually be more difficult.

* Depending on what browser is used by the remote computer, some vendors’ gear had varying degrees of success connecting with test applications.

* The devices require varying amounts of fine-tuning to work well with applications. The quality of documentation on how to fine tune varies greatly as well.

* Applications making use of Java and Flash are difficult to work with over these devices in general.

* Support is weak for Macintosh machines in general.

Synder has a lot more interesting and detailed information in the full review, which can help anyone just starting to consider this equipment to hone their own review process.