VPN access roams about

ANXeBusiness Corp., the virtual private network-based e-commerce network, is offering an addition to its current IPSec VPN services that enable roaming users to connect securely to an ANX VPN.

Called ANXMatrix Powered by Aventail.net, the service enables ANX customers to connect to Web-based resources on an ANX-based VPN without loading any extra software on their laptops or handhelds. The service even allows users at Internet kiosks to access resources on the VPN.

The service employs Aventail Corp.’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) browser-based security with ANX’s existing IPSec VPN services. This lets roaming users use a secure link created by Aventail to connect to the secure VPNs that ANX supports.

If users want to connect to client-server applications, ANXMatrix requires that a client be loaded on the remote device.

ANX coordinates IPSec VPNs for e-business among equipment vendors and service providers and offers service level agreements (SLA) on the performance of the VPNs. The first users sign up for IP network services from certified providers including AT&T Corp., Equant NV, Ameritech Corp. and Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. Then they distribute certified VPN equipment at sites they want to tie to the VPN.

ANX offers SLAs on VPN services for individual corporate customers and for services between customers. When traffic has to travel across multiple service-provider networks, it is transferred between them at ANX Exchange Points, where the certified providers place routers and switches that connect to one another’s gear.

With the new ANXMatrix service, Aventail.net proxy servers are placed at the ANX Exchange Points and patch through traffic between remote and mobile users and sites connected to ANX IPSec VPN networks.

Customers sign up for a single connection to ANX and get guaranteed performance between any of the sites they want to reach.

ANX has been incorporated for about two years and has about 1,000 customers.

ANX says it formed the joint agreement with Aventail because customers found it difficult to create and maintain multiple levels of access for different types of users of its VPN networks. Customers also had users who needed to access the VPN when they were away from a site that was connected.

ANXMatrix manages user identities and synchronizes directories for users, making it simpler to control who has access and what they have access to, ANX says.

Users logging in to ANXMatrix can be challenged by user name and password and required to use digital certificates or token cards to authenticate themselves to the service.

ANX also acknowledges that it is challenging to set up IPSec VPNs and to manage and update IPSec software on individual PCs.

The service is available now. Pricing has not been set but will be based on a per-user, per-month fee.

ANX is also nearing an announcement of a service to help customers set up IPSec VPNs on the ANX network. Rather than charge an hourly fee for technical assistance, the new service will cost a flat fee for a certain service. For example, setting up tunnels among four sites might be billed on a per-tunnel basis, enabling the customer to accurately gauge VPN setup costs ahead of time.

– IDG News Service