The Secure Sockets Layer VPN market is pretty much locked down now that networking vendors Cisco and Nortel, as well as security specialists NetScreen and Symantec, have embedded SSL remote access features in their gear, according to a Gartner Group study.The opportunity for new start-ups to get into the field is gone, but since a period of growth is projected for this technology, those already in it with established names stand to do well, according to the "Magic Quadrant Evaluation Criteria for SSL VPNs, 1H04," written by Gartner vice president John Girard.The price per user varied widely depending on the vendor and how many seats a customer bought. The more seats, the lower the cost per seat, which ranged from less than $50 for 10,000 seats of some gear to nearly $800 for 50 seats of other vendors' equipment. Prices included acquisition and installation costs plus a third of the three-year maintenance contract divided by the number of concurrent users the system would support.Girard urges customers to scrutinize how vendors calculate the costs they quote, and to look particularly for how much vendors charge for adding features to their basic platforms. He says customers should also make sure they understand whether vendors are averaging costs over the life of a contract, which may give a skewed impression of actual costs.When getting quotes on the price per seat, customers should make it clear whether the numbers they are getting represent price per user or price per active session, which can also skew impressions. Big businesses planning large deployments should push for discounts, Girard recommends.More on this study in the next newsletter.