Are SMBs Unhappy With Remote Access?

Most small and medium sized businesses (SMB) use some form of remote
access technology, but many believe that secure socket layer virtual private
networks are too pricey, a new study found.

The study of 1,000 SMB IT administrators was conducted by SSL-VPN vendor
SonicWALL. SSL-VPN remote access technology has been clawing at
IP-SEC remote access based technologies for a few years.
SSL-VPN offers the promise of “clientless” (as opposed to IP-SEC) remote
access to a
company’s applications via a browser-based interface.


The SonicWALL study found that 80 percent of SMBs are in fact using some
form of VPN connectivity to enable remote access. In most cases, those
options require a high degree of IT support.

The survey reports that 80 percent of respondents thought that current
SSL-VPN solutions were too expensive. Nearly 50 percent of respondents
though did indicate that they believed SSL-VPN to be a desirable option to
have.

“We expected healthy demand for an SSL-VPN solution, but we were
surprised by how high this demand was,” Jan Sijp, SonicWALL’s product line
manager, told internetnews.com.

There was, however, somewhat of a lack of understanding as to what SSL-VPN
actually is. Sijp said most of SMB network customers have heard of SSL-VPN
but half of them don’t know exactly what it is.

“What we learned here is that, in addition to talking about SSL-VPN, you
also have to communicate the message of easy secure remote access,” Sijp
said.

SSL-VPN vendor Aventail also noted that lack of awareness is a potential
problem.

“There has been a barrier for SMBs to enter into the remote access place
because they haven’t seen SSL-VPNs and they haven’t thought about them,”
Aventail product manager Randy Boroughs said. “The historical method of
access tended to be IP-SEC-based, which are very complex from a networking
perspective, more complex than a lot of SMBs felt engaging in.”

Though the SonicWALL study found that SMBs though that existing SSL-VPN
solutions were priced beyond their reach, the study did not ask which
SSL-VPN vendors the respondents had ever heard of or considered.

“We didn’t test specifically what vendors respondents considered,” Sijp
admitted. “However, we did perform extensive testing of various price points
and performed various statistical analyses to mine through the data.”

Sijp added that the study showed that acceptable price points are far
below what other vendors offer in the market today.

“This, SonicWALL believes, partly explains the very low penetration of
SSL-VPN appliances in the SMB segment of the market,” Sijp said.

The other vendors in the market though, including Aventail, may well be
increasing their focus on SMBs.

“We’re not seeing the barriers as there were before because of the
robustness of solutions and the fact that prices have come down
significantly,” Aventail spokesperson Margaret Dawson said. “The market
itself has become more full breadth in its solutions.”

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