• United States
Executive Editor

Cisco’s smart move into the SSL remote access arena

Nov 11, 20032 mins
Cisco SystemsNetwork SecurityNetworking

* Cisco ads SSL remote access to 3000 series VPN Concentrators

Cisco Monday entered the Secure Sockets Layer remote access market and its strategy appears to be well thought out.

The company is adding SSL remote access capabilities to one of its IPSec VPN platforms, the 3000 series VPN Concentrators. The feature, called WebVPN, will be added to new concentrators as part of the standard package. For existing 3000 series VPN Concentrator customers with support contracts, WebVPN will be available free with your next software upgrade.

For customers that already bought SSL remote access gear from somebody else, Cisco is coming too late. For those who haven’t but who are current Cisco IPSec customers, there is no downside. They get to try out the technology for free and figure out whether it can be a useful supplement or replacement for IPSec remote access at their leisure.

Cisco’s initial offering, which won’t be available until January, doesn’t have all the features of SSL remote access gear made by companies that in some cases have been shipping SSL products for years. One industry observer ranked Cisco’s WebVPN as Version 1.0 in a market where the leaders are at Version 2.0 or 3.0. Cisco clearly has some catch up to do.

But if it makes SSL remote access support standard in its remote access platforms and blends it into its IOS operating system so it can be turned up on routers, Cisco will capture a good chunk of the potential customers.

The argument from the other side is that Cisco is behind in features that more experienced SSL remote access vendors are already selling. These other vendors will have to run hard to keep ahead. They will have to hope that their feature advantages, and the fact that their products are sold as independent devices, will attract enough demanding customers to compete. They may also have to cut prices because Cisco’s WebVPN is basically free.

Cisco is ranked at the top of IPSec VPN vendors by analysts who measure marketshare, so the company already has a huge piece of the Internet remote access market as customers. If it can capture a good chunk of them as SSL customers as well, it could effectively reduce the number of people who are willing to pay for SSL remote access equipment. Stay tuned.