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Cisco Expands VPN Center Capabilities

Networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. Monday said it was bolstering its virtual private network (VPN) solution center (SC) to deliver extremely fast, and ultimately more secure, IPsec-based VPNs.

Already a fully functional center with a history of spawning VPN products for new or existing enterprises, the VPN SC will now deploy systems based on Multiprotocol Label Switching, which gives network operators a great deal of flexibility to divert and route traffic around link failures, congestion, and bottlenecks.

From a quality-of-service (QoS) standpoint, ISPs will better be able to manage different kinds of data streams based on priority and service plan. For instance, those who subscribe to a premium service plan, or those who receive a lot of streaming media or high-bandwidth content can see minimal latency and packet loss.

Where the VPN is concerned, this means deployment through a single management platform, reducing cost and complexity. According to the Yankee Group's recently published report, managed Internet Protocol virtual private network (IP VPNs) services are picking up steam in the small and medium business (SMB) market. SMBs use IP VPNs as a remote access solution to connect business travelers, mobile workers, and telecommuters to their corporate local area network (LAN), or as a LAN-to-LAN intranet connecting multiple offices.

Yankee Group found in a recent study that eight percent of very small (2 to 19 employee), 16 percent of small (20 to 99 employee), and 19 percent of medium (100 to 499 employee) businesses with Internet connections and multiple offices use VPNs today.

"While IP VPNs offer an excellent wide-area connectivity solution to SMBs with multiple sites, it is the remote access application that is driving the SMB VPN market today," said Yankee Group analyst J. P. Gownder.

"Since 80% of very small, 59% of small, and 45% of medium-sized businesses only have one office location, managed VPN services targeting SMBs are touting the clear cost and productivity benefits of remote access from any Internet access point. For many workers, being able to access the corporate LAN from any location has become essential, and employing a managed VPN replaces variable long-distance dial-up charges and expensive IT staff time with a fixed monthly management fee."

Specifically in Cisco's case, the VPN SC facilitates the roll-out of value-added services, such as fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security functions in network and service management layers. With an IPsec platform, (IPsec supports two encryption modes: Transport and Tunnel. Transport mode encrypts only the data of each packet, but leaves the header untouched. The more secure Tunnel mode encrypts both the header and the payload.) service providers recognize they are getting an extremely secure VPN.