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Executive Editor

Aventail works with AT&T to offer multiple remote access options

Mar 13, 20033 mins

* Aventail, AT&T offer SSL-based remote access service

Aventail is teaming up with AT&T to offer one of the industry’s first Secure Sockets Layer-based remote access service.

Back in the old days – which means about four years ago – Aventail started offering a remote access service of its own whereby it would come in and set up its SSL gear at customer sites and manage it for them. Then last year, the company added a simplified version of its hardware and software that it sells to customers who want to manage it themselves.

This latest option involves AT&T, which means customers can buy a bundle of services including the Internet access lines that the traffic will flow over. It also gives customers a way to set up a variety of access options, mixing SSL with IPSec VPN, using a single provider. AT&T already had IPSec and MPLS VPN services on its roster.

Multiple options can be attractive to customers who have many different classes of end users for whom a single remote-access option is unsuitable.

For example, many businesses use IPSec remote-access VPNs to give users access to corporate networks, and this access is at the network level. They establish a VPN tunnel to a site, and gain access to resources as if they are on the local network itself. The remote PC becomes a node on the network.

But for many corporate users, that is more access than they need and more access than the network security staff is willing to risk. IPSec VPNs are also fairly complicated to set up and require maintenance. So VPN use is restricted to power users who must get on the network from remote sites.

This can leave out of the loop the vast majority of workers who might find it useful to access their e-mail or salespeople who want to access price lists. That’s where SSL can help by allowing limited access via standard Web browsers, meaning virtually any Internet connected PC can reach these business resources.

This collaboration between Aventail and AT&T adds another remote access option that seems best suited for businesses that want to outsource their remote access and want to make Web-enabled applications accessible to users who may be using borrowed machines that are behind other companies’ corporate networks. It will make it easier for some businesses to keep their employees and business partners in touch.

OpenReach is another provider offering IPSec VPN and SSL services, but it has a different model. You can check it out at