Gartner Group has once again sorted out the Secure Sockets Layer VPN vendors into four quadrants based on axes that rank the vendors on a continuum from niche players to visionaries, and on a scale that measures their ability to execute on their plans.The coveted quadrant housing visionaries with the ability to execute well is sparsely populated by just three of 16 vendors making the cut: Aventail, NetScreen and Nortel. This is part of the Gartner report called "Magic Quadrant for SSL VPNs, 1H04."The narrative accompanying the magic quadrant chart reveals some interesting thinking about some of the vendors:* Aventail and NetScreenBoth vendors have teamed with other security vendors to offer customers better-rounded remote access systems. NetScreen topped Gartner's list for revenue growth since its 2003 report on this subject. Aventail is boosting its sales with new, more powerful platforms and via sales through carrier managed services.* NortelNortel jumped from being a niche player to being a visionary since the last report because it has made a smaller platform to support SSL remote access. Gartner hints that Nortel's management will put it in even better stead in the next half when management will play a weightier role in the evaluation.* CiscoThe networking giant is doing a good job considering it just introduced its homegrown SSL offering that Gartner describes as "first-edition." Slapping SSL remote access support on existing IPSec VPN platforms strained performance. Cisco has work to do to boost the number of sessions its gear supports.* CitrixCitrix catapulted into visionary status by making it clear its gateways could support SSL remote access as well. The glitch for Citrix is that it must make it affordable for customers that haven't already invested in MetaFrame.