UUNet’s VPN merges dialup and dedicated access

UUNET Technologies Inc. launched its latest managed VPN services Tuesday, letting customers sign up for a single service to support both dedicated and dial-up users.

UUsecure VPN Total Access edition lets users set up a secure, corporate wide-area intranet or extranet that dial-up and dedicated users can access. Until now, UUNET required users to buy two separate VPN services if they wanted to support dial-up and dedicated access to their corporate network.

UUNET, WorldCom Inc.’s ISP subsidiary, is rolling out Lucent Technologies Inc.’s Access Point routers at all sites where UUsecure VPN Total Access customers have dedicated connections to UUNET’s Internet backbone. Remote office workers or employees who often travel can dial into the same VPN using a computer with IRE’s SafeNet IPSec client, which supports up to 128-bit encryption (also called Triple-DES).

In addition, UUNET is supporting 128-bit encryption between its dedicated VPN sites. But users that want the added security benefit of digital certificates, for user and network authentication, will have to wait. Although UUNET stated it would make critical decisions about public key infrastructure (PKI) support at the end of 1999, the ISP is still only in the planning stages. (UUNET plots VPN course)

“We slowed down that process because customers are still trying to figure out how they want to use PKI and what ownership role they want (UUNET) to play,” says Janel Crabtree, director of product management for VPNs.

Genuity Corp. (formerly GTE Internetworking) and Intellispan are the only two service providers that have an internal PKI system supporting digital certificate authentication. AT&T is the only other ISP that has announced it is deploying a PKI system, and its digital certificate support is slated for availability in September.

UUNET has decided it initially will not roll out its own PKI internally, but will likely offer customers a PKI system such as RSA’s Keon, where the customer would own the digital certificate authority, Crabtree says. “There will be a PKI trial in the fourth quarter,” she says.

It seems UUNET has spent more time than it expected exploring more than its PKI VPN enhancements. In fact, UUsecure VPN Total Access edition was expected to launch in March. (UUNET expands managed VPN services) Complicated dealings with the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding exporting 128-bit DES technology to various countries was a sticking point and slowed down the rollout of UUNET’s latest service, says Tom Bregman, senior product manager for UUsecure.

While UUNET has taken its time rolling out its latest VPN service, it will offer users a strong international option. UUsecure customers can set up dedicated VPN connections to remote offices or business partners in 17 countries outside the U.S., which is up from UUNET’s international reach to 11 countries at the end of 1999. The countries include Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

UUNET also supports global roaming for its dial-up customers, offering local-number access to UUNET’s backbone, Bregman says. UUNET also plans to offer DSL and wireless access to its UUsecure VPN service customers.

“DSL will be available in the fourth quarter,” Bregman says. “It will offer customers an alternative to dedicated connectivity. There will not be a client, but a dedicated router at the end of the DSL circuit for a fixed location,” he says. UUNET is in the early stages of testing wireless access to its VPN services and does not yet know when it will be available.

While UUNET is offering a single platform for dedicated and dial-up support, the service is still priced separately. Dedicated connections for UUsecure VPN Total Access cost $595 for 56K bit/sec, $1,895 for 1.544M bit/sec and $35,500 for 45M bit/sec per month, plus a one-time installation fee. Dial-up support costs $1,500 per month, plus $19.95 per month per user and another one-time installation fee.

UUsecure VPN Total Access will be available at the end of August.