• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

What’s important in IP VPNs?

Jun 03, 20032 mins

* Studies reveal user VPN priorities

A new paper by Nortel examines two recent separate studies conducted by IDC and Infonetics Research about what enterprise network managers care about when evaluating IP VPNs.

Clearly, security is the chief customer criterion.  Both surveys reflect that security tops priority lists when VPN buyers are asked about their primary reasons for implementing an IP VPN, the most desired product feature of an IP VPN and their top vendor selection criteria.

Actually, we find a little surprising the fact that security tops buyer lists as a “reason to implement” in IDC’s study of U.S. WAN managers, called “IP-VPN Guide for Network Executives.”

Many enterprises are considering moving from very secure frame relay and ATM services to IP VPNs, which require a certain degree of fiddling to bring them onto a par with their virtual circuit-based counterparts. So there certainly is no additional security benefit to an IP VPN unless you layer on encryption, which you can also do with the other types of networks.

Consequently, we surmise that the respondents were looking for added security compared with generic Internet-based connectivity. 

The second reason cited by WAN service and product purchasers for moving to IP VPNs in IDC’s research comes as no surprise: cutting costs. 

Infonetics’ study, “User Plans for VPN Products and Services U.S./Canada 2002,” concluded that high availability/failover was most important. “Ease of use” came in second. Of note is that QoS/bandwidth management ranked last. 

Though this might seem odd, there are a couple of possible explanations.  One is that many of you are finding that networks in general, and the Internet in particular, tend to perform much better than promised (or feared), thereby diminishing the critical nature of QoS.

A second explanation might be that while QoS and bandwidth management are important value-added capabilities, they only become relevant if the network basics are in place first. If the network isn’t even up and running, for example, who cares if voice traffic can be configured for the high-priority queue?

The entire Nortel paper that summarizes and analyzes these research studies, “The Seven Attributes of a Successful IP-VPN,” is available for download at Webtorials.Com.  We’d love to hear how these rankings of factors match up with your opinions.