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Juniper Jumps into SMB Security

Juniper Networks has entered the small-to-medium sized business market with a new line of security appliances.

The company's NetScreen Remote Access 500 products use Secure Socket Layer Virtual Private Network technology to help workers, customers and partners access local area networks through any Web browser.

The ability to use a browser rather than install software on each laptop is also being touted as an advantage over competing IPsec security offerings, which require users to download interface software onto their laptops.

But the biggest selling point is price. The company will market three models through resellers: the RA 510, for $4,000; the RA 525 for $5,000; and the RA 550 for $7,000.

"We believe this rounds out product line and addresses a new market for us," Chris Bondi, a Juniper senior product manager told internetnews.com.

Traditionally, Juniper's biggest clients for enterprise security products are financial services firms, health care organizations and government agencies. However, the company expects the 500 line to have a broader appeal.

RA products have been under development for several months and recently completed testing with 10 beta customers, Bondi said.

Analysts at Infonetics Research like the market. In 2002, 24 percent of small, 37 percent of medium, and 60 percent of large organizations had remote access VPNs. Those numbers are expected to jump to 55 percent, 74 percent and 90 percent, respectively, by 2007, the firm said.

Large companies, with larger IT budgets, adopted the technology first, hence there is greater growth potential for small and medium businesses.

For network equipment makers, infusing systems with the latest security technology is becoming increasingly important as viruses proliferate and mobile workers provide more potential doorways for threats to enter.

In February, Juniper paid $4 billion in stock for NetScreen, whose technology is the basis for the RA line.

Juniper's acquisition was a shot across the bow of rival Cisco Systems and, to a lesser degree, Nortel Networks and Avici . Cisco did not stand pat however, buying Twingo to enhance its SSL VPN offerings.