SSL VPN Trumps IPSec at Alexza

The pharmaceutical company opted for Aventail's EX-1500 SSL VPN appliance to secure remote access.

Alexza Molecular Delivery Corp.s Tom Miller needed to provide an increasing number of his organizations road warriors with remote access to monitoring experiments and mission-critical applications in a flexible and cost-effective way. At the same time, he needed to build a foundation for the exchange of information with future business partners. His solution: Replace the companys existing IPSec VPN with an SSL-based VPN.

Alexza is one of a growing number of companies opting for SSL technology. Meta Group Inc. predicts that SSL-based VPN solutions will become the dominant approach for remote access within enterprises this year. The Stamford, Conn., research company also estimates that by next year, SSL VPNs will anchor extranets and Web commerce deployments.

/zimages/3/28571.gifeWEEK Labs tested four SSL-based VPNs. Click here to read the reviews.

After a comprehensive evaluation late last year of Secure Sockets Layer-based VPN products from four vendors, Miller, director of IT at Alexza and an eWEEK Corporate Partner, decided to deploy the EX-1500 SSL VPN appliance from Aventail Corp.

"While the IPSec [IP Security] solution worked, we realized it would be a nightmare to manage as we grew and added new users," Miller said. "An SSL VPN, and the Aventail solution in particular, allows us to provide people who need to be on the road with a lot of the functionality they get in the office."

eWEEK Labs went on-site to Alexzas Palo Alto, Calif., offices to evaluate the Aventail implementation. We were impressed by the flexibility and ease of use of the Aventail solution, as well as with the improved management functionality that Alexza, a specialty pharmaceutical startup founded in 2000, has been able to attain via its deployment.

When Miller began looking at SSL VPN solutions, remote access at his company was limited to Web-based e-mail via Microsoft Corp.s Outlook Web Access. To access Word, Excel and other files remotely, employees had to e-mail the files to themselves and access them through Outlook Web Access. Employees used SafeNet Inc.s Sentinel VPN client, which is IPSec-based, in conjunction with Fortinet Inc.s FortiGate 400 firewall to access applications.

The IPSec VPN was suitable for Alexzas power users, but Miller was concerned about management of the system as the number of users increased.

He decided to test products from Aventail, Cisco Systems Inc., F5 Networks Inc. and Neoteris Inc. (now Juniper Networks Inc.) with the help of Corsa Network Technologies Inc., a systems integrator in Campbell, Calif.

Next page: Aventails flexibility and pricing pushed it to the top of the heap.