• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Internet VPNs struggle to meet enterprise standards

Jan 21, 20032 mins
Network SecurityVPN

* Carriers' network guarantees disappoint business users

Most of us prefer having our cake and eating it, too. But at present, when it comes to Internet-based IP VPN services, most of us are forced to put down our forks after just a few sugary bites.

We’ve been hearing from some of our sweet-toothed enterprise readers who are salivating over the attractive pricing of DSL broadband Internet services as remote-access alternatives. But they say they are losing their appetites over the network guarantees (or lack thereof) associated with the services.

One retailer, for example, wrote that he seeks a DSL- or cable-modem-based Internet VPN service to replace his company’s current frame relay WAN. But he stipulated that his top priority is network reliability.

“It doesn’t matter how fast or cheap DSL is if our stores are not online,” he asserted.

Therein, of course, lies the rub. Most DSL and similar services are not yet truly “business-class” (despite what the marketing collateral says) by enterprise standards. The DSL-based Internet services that even have service-level agreement (SLA) options offer, at best, 99.9% network availability guarantees. By contrast, frame relay services typically guarantee 99.999% availability.

The good news is that DSL has at least gotten started down the SLA path, and public Internet security is getting stronger by the day. But there’s a reason that DSL/Internet services are relatively inexpensive. Delivering quality of service (QoS) in its many shapes and forms costs money, both in management resources and additional equipment.

Enterprise IP telephony just might end up being the “killer app” that drives meaningful SLAs for Internet-based VPNs. Enterprises looking to reap maximum ROI on IP telephony deployments will want to extend the capabilities out to telecommuters, small offices, and call center agents working from home in Timbuktu.  And for that, enterprises will absolutely require QoS guarantees with their DSL and cable modem Internet services.