F5 Revamps Secure VPN Offering

The IP apps delivery specialist introduces its sixth-generation SSL VPN software, pledging faster, more secure connections for users and easier administration for IT managers.

F5 Networks announced the newest version of its FirePass Controller VPN software on May 22, moving to cash in on growing demand for Secure Sockets Layer VPN technology.

The Seattle-based company is touting the latest version of its SSL VPN as a significant step forward from previous iterations of the software due to the updates wider range of connectivity options, automated anti-virus remediation tools and simplified management controls.

F5 said FirePass Controller Version 6.0 greatly reduces the time needed to install the VPN by offering features such as a visual interface for setting security policies and pre-set templates for adjusting the program for common configurations.

The package has been integrated with over 100 different anti-virus products, allowing customers to blend management of their respective security systems, according to the manufacturer.

F5 said the most significant addition to the new product may be its ability to automatically update security policy settings on desktop computers when those settings do not comply with a companys network guidelines. Adding that element to the VPNs ability to monitor such endpoint security issues makes it a far more comprehensive and proactive package, said Ameet Dhillon, director of product management at F5.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about F5s recent moves in the security field, including WAN optimization.

The executive said that by further eliminating the need to manage multiple technologies and products for centralized VPN access control, the product offers a more cost-effective architecture, which he said customers are responding to. In addition to selling FirePass as a stand-alone product, F5 also markets the technology as an optional module for use along with its Big IP applications switch appliance.

"There is clearly a huge trend toward SSL VPN among enterprises, as theyre seeing the benefit of using one common platform that addresses network access in a uniform fashion," Dhillon said. "This is a technology that can drives companies ability to identify problems earlier and remediate them faster, as we see the line between security and networking technologies continue to blur."

Another new feature of FirePass Controller Version 6.0 is a technology aimed at helping users work with the technology, dubbed EasyConnect. The system allows individuals to select their own log-on interfaces, based on issues such as their device and network connections, which should allow users to set up the software with less help from IT administrators, Dhillon said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifFor advice on how to secure your network and applications, as well as the latest security news, visit Ziff Davis Internets Security IT Hub.

The company is also touting an onboard technology labeled as Dynamic AppTunnels, which it claims provides a better alternative to traditional reverse proxy systems for accessing Web applications. F5 said the feature eliminates the need for companies to engage in extensive interoperability testing in order to integrate the VPN with other security systems.

The software makers network security products currently represent roughly 10 percent of its overall sales, with FirePass accounting for approximately 85 percent of those deals. Dhillon said he expects the percentage of security products F5 sells to increase based on demand for SSL technologies, among other trends.

The market for SSL VPN technologies continues to mature rapidly. In mid-May Microsoft announced that it has signed an agreement to buy VPN maker Whale Communications, with plans to integrate the technology into its secure infrastructure software lineup. Other leading SSL VPN vendors, including networking giant Cisco Systems and security specialist McAfee, have also recently updated their SSL VPN products.

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