Real estate agent opts for VPN over leased line

Commercial real estate agent CB Richard Ellis Pty. Ltd. has implemented an IPSec VPN in preference to dedicated leased lines for its network of branch offices.

Kevin Crawshaw, CIO of CB Richard Ellis, said that, after performing an extensive review of its network requirements, a VPN was chosen because of its value proposition.

“Our company is state-driven so there wasn’t a need for an integrated network,” Crawshaw said. “With the business growing steadily, dedicated lines were far too expensive to be seriously considered.” CB Richard Ellis has now settled on Connect as the VPN provider after using a number of other carriers.

“We started with a OneTel VPN which was low maintenance and quite stable,” Crawshaw said. “Since the collapse of OneTel we considered accounts with Telstra and WorldCom. We have now consolidated everything with Connect for more than 500 users across 14 offices around the country.”

Kathryn Ossipoff, group marketing director, Connect Internet Solutions, said the VPN is a disruptive technology which is growing much faster than the market for leased lines.

“VPNs are beginning to attract the attention of large enterprises such as banks as the service levels are approaching those of leased lines,” Ossipoff said. “Our network consists of Juniper at the core and Cisco at the edge. We recently upgraded the core to enable MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) functionality and increase redundancy.”

Sonicwall appliances are used at each location for the VPN.

“Both AAPT and Connect (an AAPT-owned company) are good to work with and their responsiveness is also good,” Crawshaw said. “For our company’s requirements, I can’t think of a better approach than a VPN.”

According to Ossipoff, Connect’s infrastructure won’t need expanding for at least five years.

“We are flexible and give customers the option to use our network as well as those of other providers,” she said.

With the VPN infrastructure established, CB Richard Ellis is developing a distributed property management application, which Crawshaw described as “template-driven technology.”

“We are now able to do a lot of work online which has reduced travel costs,” Crawshaw said. “Our network is now a core business need so we haven’t expected any ROI with the implementation.” As part of the service, CB Richard Ellis can view its bandwidth usage online.

“It takes no time at all to administer the firewalls and for the most part we don’t touch them,” Crawshaw said. “We have a remote server which can be accessed with the VPN client. The next step for us will be to go bigger than 2Mbps links.”