Businesses are acquiring virtual private network technology at an accelerated pace, but the headaches involved are prompting a host of new companies to offer VPNs as a service.
After three years of development, Imperito Networks is releasing its first product with a wide launch today, promising that by using its InstantVPN, businesses can deploy thousands of VPNs in the time it takes to deploy one today.
A VPN encrypts traffic before it traverses the Internet and then decrypts it for the recipient. In the last three years, the technology has largely been a replacement for remote access servers.
In todays VPN installations, problems can range from incompatible software to hardware that doesnt interoperate. When the VPN doesnt work, the mobile work force often cant do its work.
But the new approach minimizes the effort in deploying VPNs. "This is a solution that allows you . . . to do configuration and provisioning of your VPNs on the fly," said Eric Hemmindinger, security research director at the Aberdeen Group. "What that means is less than an hour from when you start, you can actually have people using their VPNs."
Imperitos solution allows the administrator to provision all of the VPNs from a Web browser and push the 1.5-megabit desktop application to all of their employees clients in an automated manner.
Concern about hackers is one factor driving the use of VPNs. Peter Means, CEO of NovaStor, a 40-person storage and backup company, was originally naive about the possibility of being hacked. "Were a tiny company. Whos ever going to come find us, let alone hack us?" Means said. "But we were getting hacked periodically, and found it was time to start implementing more secure solutions."
NovaStor began using Imperitos InstantVPN nearly a year ago. "The install was so dead simple our [chief technology officer] went crazy," Means said, although he admits there were originally network problems Imperito had to fix.
Several other companies are working on similar technology, including eTunnels, OpenReach and SmartPipes.
Hemmindinger calls this the next evolution of VPN deployments, relieving the pressure on companies to build their own. Some service providers offer VPNs as a service today, but theyre really just "implementing on your behalf the same thing you would be struggling with yourself," Hemmindinger said. Companies like Imperito streamline the entire process.
Imperito was co-founded by Chief Technology Officer Alonzo Ellis, who got the idea for InstantVPN when he was employed at Citicorp and charged with implementing a 130,000-user VPN. When he realized how difficult and expensive the project would be, he left and started Imperito.
"Its taken three years to get it together to make sure it will work in different environments," Ellis said. "With networking software, you have so many issues. Thats not a trivial task."