VPN momentum moves towards MPLS

Vendors and analysts are predicting that emerging technologies, such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) VPNs and thin-client virtual private networks (VPNs) will usurp the growth of internet-based VPNs.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  November 26, 2002

Despite the increasing popularity of internet-based virtual private networks (VPNs) vendors and analysts are already predicting that emerging technologies, such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) VPNs and thin-client VPNs could usurp this growth.

Locally, service providers are also gearing to deliver MPLS capabilities and services. According to Cisco Systems, operators throughout the Middle East are recognising the business gains that can be made by delivering such services to customers.

“The future of private networks is really the replacement of national private networks with MPLS VPNs, which has already started in the Middle East. The alternative is for service providers to build public IP networks that are not related to the internet and then sell MPLS VPNs,” says Anwar Kotob, systems engineering manager, Cisco Systems, Dubai.

Regional enterprises will also benefit from MPLS VPNs with scalability, quality of service and enhanced security. “Enterprises buy an MPLS VPN service from their operator and get a Layer 3 VPN service with all the advantages and scalability of the internet, however, but with the security, confidentiality and restricted access of a private network,” says Kotob.

Although IPSec VPNs offer users certain advantages, for example, users can access the internet — and therefore their VPN or office network — from a wide variety of locations. However, MPLS VPNs also reduce the management headaches for enterprises, enabling them to outsource these concerns to the service provider.

“With IPSec VPNs there is a certain part of the management that lies with the enterprise. With MPLS VPNs enterprises are saved from the management and operation requirements, which lie with the operator. The enterprises are just required to plug in and get to work,” explains Kotob.

However, Gartner Group suggests the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol will gather momentum among users, offering an alternative to remote access and extranets in the VPN space with its so-called ‘thin client’ VPN model.

“By year-end 2004, 60% of corporate users will regularly use a thin client VPN, instead of a full, fat client VPN for access to business data. Compared to IPSec VPNs, thin client VPNs built on SSL are easier to deploy and support,” says John Girard, vice president & research director, Gartner Group.

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