While sales of Secure Sockets Layer-based remote access gear is projected to grow dramatically over the next few years, it will still lag far behind IPSec VPN sales, according to a recent study.In the last quarter of 2002, IPSec VPN sales worldwide reached $735 million, while sales of SSL-based remote access gear was a mere $18 million, according to the study by Infonetics Research.Projected sales numbers for the calendar year 2006 are $5 billion for IPSec VPNs and $1 billion for SSL remote access. While SSL will close the gap impressively - from a mere 2.4% of IPSec to 20% - it will still trail.The study is the latest in quarterly market research by Infonetics. Its author describes the growth of projects for SSL gear as explosive - which it is. But these numbers do not pose a threat to IPSec, which continues to grow at a healthy rate. According to the study, sales grew 10% between the third and fourth quarters last year, although a lot of companies show exceptional revenues in the fourth quarter.While the predictions are good for both technologies, they do not address how much the two will come closer to each other over the next few years. SSL may become just another feature on a router or security appliance blurring the distinction between the products that are distinct today.Because SSL remote access is targeted at Web applications and application-level security and IPSec is all about network layer security, they will continue to have distinct functions. The SSL growth signals not a threat to IPSec but rather a growing appreciation by customers of the unique niche it can fill.