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Remote-office roundup

Apr 28, 20036 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork SecuritySecurity

N+I offers something for every network executive.

Now that we’re all working from everywhere, network executives need to track technology up and down the scale.

It’s not enough to be an expert in remote access, security and collaboration tools. Today, you’re recommending and implementing small-office gear for home and branch offices, too. Small office/home office network vendors get it; that’s why many are making a strong showing at this year’s NetWorld+Interop. Here’s a rundown of what’s new.

Small to midsize offices

AEP Systems, which makes Secure Sockets Layer hardware security and acceleration gear, will announce a new version of SureWare A-Gate, an SSL-based VPN appliance for small to midsize offices. The device provides authenticated access to internal applications from Web-enabled devices. New in Version 1.2 is a remote desktop that lets users access Web-based applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel. The device costs $5,000.

EmergeCore, which develops all-in-one network products, will announce a new version of its all-in-one network device, which it calls an “IT in a Box.” The IT-100 includes 20G bytes of storage, router, four-port switch, firewall, VPN, Wi-Fi access point, FTP server, e-mail server and multiple-domain support.

EmergeCore says nontechnical user can set up and maintain the box via the Web-based interface. The device supports PCs; Macintosh and Unix machines; and laptops, Tablet PCs and PDAs. Unlike the previous version, which cost nearly $10,000, the new version costs $1,400.

Linksys, which Cisco acquired last month, will announce support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) in its wireless gear. WPA is a standards-based security protocol that eliminates most 802.11 security issues. WPA will be offered as a software download on Linksys’ site.

Netgear, which will announced its IPO earlier this month, is distancing itself from Linksys and other SOHO network vendors by offering more “business-focused” products. Netgear will announce the ME103, an 802.11b access point with enterprise security and detachable antennas. The AP includes IP Security (IPSec) VPN passthrough, support for 802.11x for use with a Remote Authentication Dial-In Service server and support for a slew of enterprise authentication protocols, and WPA via a software upgrade. Available in May, the device will cost $240. The company also will debut the ANT2405 5dbi Omni-Directional Antenna ($30), the directional ANT24D18 patch Panel Antenna ($400), and the ANT24DBC DC Power Injector ($75), products that extend the range of wireless networks.

Netgear also debuted the FWAG114, a four-port router with built-in IPSec VPN, stateful packet inspection firewall, and 802.11a/g dual-band access point. The device supports two VPN tunnels. It is scheduled to be available in June and will cost $460.

Large offices

Aspelle will wait until after the show to announce an update to its SSL-based VPN, Aspelle Everywhere, next week.Although Aspelle won’t provide all the details, it says the new version will include improved performance, intranet support, and portal functions to simplify user setup and management. Also new is multidomain support within Microsoft Active Directory and application-level authentication.

Application-level access lets network executives restrict access based on authentication type, which ensures the protection of sensitive data such as human resources or financial databases. Aspelle Everywhere provides access to all corporate applications, including Web, Unix, Windows and legacy systems. The new version is slated to be available in May at a price of $40,000 for 100 concurrent users.

Aventail, a leading SSL VPN service provider, will announce a partnership with the International Computer Security Association to create a set of SSL VPN certification criteria. At the show, many SSL VPN vendors are participating in the SSL VPN Hotspot, an area for educating attendees on the technology. Earlier this month at the RSA Security show, Aventail announced Pocket PC support, which will let users access corporate applications from their devices.

Neoteris will unveil Version 3.1 of its Instant Virtual Extranet SSL VPN appliance, and will announce a partnership with Serocom to offer the IVE as a managed service in the U.K. Version 3.1 includes a new Windows-based Secure Application Manager (SAM), that when coupled with the IVE’s existing Java-based manager, supports all client/server applications. It also provides deeper integration with Oracle and Siebel platforms, with Citrix coming soon. Pricing for IVE 3.1 starts at $10,000.

Proxim, which bought Agere Systems last summer, will announce the Orinoco Gold 802.11a/b/g ComboCard, the first dual-mode card geared to corporations. The card, which lets users connect to any Wi-Fi network, comes in two versions. Gold ($130) includes a client utility that lets users manage and update their wireless network and security profiles. Silver ($110), which lacks the utility, is geared to less-mobile small office/home office workers. Like Linksys and others, Proxim plans to offer a WPA upgrade via software download when WPA is certified this week.

Ranch Networks debuted the RN5 Integrated Security Switch for securing small and branch offices. Ranch provides what it calls managed zones, which segment the LAN into multiple secured zones, each with specific stateful security policies for outgoing and incoming traffic. This lets network executives isolate incoming VPN traffic, isolate portions of the LAN, or limit access to the rest of the network from wireless LANs and conference rooms, for instance. The RN5 integrates five security zones, bandwidth management, autodiscovery and Layer 2 to 4 switching. The device costs $12,000.

ServGate Technologies, which sells security gateways for home offices up to carriers, will announce the FlexForce Security Gateway. Geared to gigabit networks in branch offices, corporations and carriers, the device combines a VPN and firewall and can support WAN connections from 10M bit/sec to gigabit. The device can be partitioned into separate security zones called secure virtual gateways, each with its own management interface, policies and administrative controls. Pricing starts at $25,000.

Whale Communications will show off its new e-Gap Remote Access Appliance AE. The company differentiates its SSL VPN product from others by focusing on securing the location from which users are accessing corporate resources, such as airport kiosks. Whale’s technology, called Attachment Wiper, deletes all temporary files, browser cache, downloaded files and pages, cookies, history information, user credentials and other information that the “untrusted” browser records during the SSL VPN session.

In addition, Whale provides a time-out mechanism that ensures sessions are closed when abandoned, and users who are legitimately working aren’t logged off. A secure logoff replaces HTTP Basic Authentication, ensuring user credentials aren’t cached to the client machine. The e-Gap also requires periodic reauthentication. E-Gap Remote Access Appliance costs $23,000.