Products of the Year: Virtual private networks

Information Security magazine unveils its 2004 VPNs of the year.

GOLD MEDAL: Regardless of their form, VPNs are enterprise workhorses for remote and site-to-site connectivity. Users rated Cisco System's VPN 3 Series Concentrator tops in its class for one reason: ease of use.

Enterprise managers rave about how it combines robust overall technical excellence with a setup process so straightforward that even users can handle it.

"It's basically self-installed by many of our users," says a network security specialist at a large enterprise. With users having the ability to install VPN clients, VPN 3 Series takes significant stress off IT and the help desk.

Security managers particularly like Cisco's Scalable Encryption Processing modules, which allow customers to do field upgrades of the appliance. These modules, according to security professionals, put the VPN 3 Series in a class by itself.

The VPN Series 3 Concentrator covers all the protocols you would expect for VPNs, supporting IPSec, PPTP, L2TP and SSL. Users say that it's stronger at IPSec than SSL, and most managers give it high marks for its versatility and manageability. In fact, Cisco's ability to automatically route new users and manage bandwidth is a boon for enterprise managers.

"The key feature for us is that every switch port on our network, every dial-in, every VPN, every wireless connection will be tested to determine whether it's one of our computers and whether it meets all of the policies," says a CISO at a mid-sized manufacturer, who also likes having the ability to manage his network at the switch level.

Such flexibility and effective integration, coupled with innovative use of technology, makes it clear why Cisco stands out as a gold winner.

SILVER MEDAL: VPN-1 Pro
Check Point Software Technologies, www.checkpoint.com
Rating: 79

USER COMMENT: "Check Point makes my job easier by tailoring its offerings to my business needs."

BRONZE MEDAL: Aventail EX 1500 SSL VPN
Aventail, www.aventail.com
Rating: 75

USER COMMENT: "It's super easy to use. I also like Aventail's exclusive focus on SSL; it's not a one-off product."

MORE 2004 PRODUCTS OF THE YEAR


This was first published in January 2005

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