Is The End of IPsec Afoot?

Gartner says SSL-VPNs will dominate remote access by 2008.
Within the next two years, IPsec will no longer be the dominant remote access technology.

According to research firm Gartner, SSL-VPNs will be the primary remote access method by 2008 for greater than 90 percent of casual employee access, more than three-fourths of contractors and more than two-thirds of business telecommuting employees.

SSL-VPNs offer the promise of easier access since all it typically involves from the end-user standpoint is a Web browser to access a corporate network.

SLL is broadly used as the security method of choice for online banking and other security-sensitive Internet applications.

In contrast, IPsec is seen as being more complex and resource-intensive, as it typically requires the end user to install a client to access a corporate network.

The Gartner report sites a number of other advantages to SSL-VPNs, including the fact that a unique IP address is not necessarily required to authenticate, and sessions may "roam" across IP addresses.

According to the report, Cisco is a leader in IPSec and a visionary in SSL-VPN. And Juniper and Aventail are the only two firms in Gartner's leader category for SSL-VPN.

Both Juniper and Cisco recently launched new SSL-VPN platforms for service providers.

Aventail said both legacy IPsec users and new remote-access users are moving to the new technology.

Lewis Carpenter, Aventail COO, explained that the primary barrier to SSL-VPN adoption is if a user already has a legacy implementation that's good enough and that they can live with. Carpenter argues, however, that most find that SSL-VPN reduces help desk costs and provides better granular access control among other benefits.

One issue that has come up in the past is the price differential between Ipsec- and SSL-VPN-based solutions.

An October study conducted by SSL-VPN vendor SonicWall reported that 80 percent of respondents thought that current SSL-VPN solutions were too expensive.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents did, however, indicate that they believed SSL-VPN to be a desirable option to have.

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