Report: SSL-VPNs Still Behind IPsec

The emerging SSL-VPNs security protocol will eventually overtake IPsec VPN deployments for transmitting data across a network securely. But for now, IPsec retains the lead, according to Infonetics Research.

Jeff Wilson, principal analyst of VPNs and Security at research firm Infonetics, told that IPsec is still leading the remote access VPN market. Wilson noted that, among the companies that Infonetics interviewed, about 60 percent of remote access VPN users used IPSec. He said 21 percent used SSL, and the rest used a variety of other technologies, including L2TP, which stands for Layer Two (2) Tunneling Protocol , and PPTP , which stands for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.

SSL-VPN does, however, have more forward momentum in the marketplace and will not remain second fiddle to IPsec for too much longer.

“For remote access, in terms of new shipments/installations, I can definitely see SSL overtaking IPSec by the end of 2007,” Wilson said. “As far as total installed base of remote access users, it will take longer than that, 2010 and beyond.”

A report from Gartner Group earlier this year forecast that by 2008, SSL-VPNs will become the primary remote access method for greater than 90 percent of casual employee access, more than three-fourths of contractors and more than two-thirds of business telecommuting employees.

Infonetics’ study found that security was the leading driver of SSL-VPN deployment with 80 percent of respondents indicating they chose the technology due to its increased security. Other drivers for SSL-VPN deployment include the desire to decrease network downtime which was noted by 51 percent of respondents. Another 46 percent said the desire to enable clientless VPNs was a driver for them.

SSL-VPNs differ from IPsec VPNs principally in the client aspect. SSL-VPNs offer the promise of easier access since from an end user standpoint they typically involve just a Web browser to access a corporate network. IPsec, on the other hand, usually involves the use of a client application in order to get network access.

One Infonetics study participant gave Cisco the highest score across all categories except for pricing. Cisco recently added some additional SSL-VPN capabilities to its product lines.

In terms of pricing, SonicWALL was rated the highest and second for price to performance ratio. In October of last year, SonicWALL published the results of a study in which 80 percent of respondents indicated that current SSL-VPN solutions were too expensive.

There are still a number of barriers, beyond price, to SSL-VPN deployments.

“Lack of support for their required applications, security concerns, and confusion about no client/thin client/full client issues would be the main ones respondents reported in the study,” Wilson said.

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