The distribution of remote client software for VPNs is not an easy task, but with the release of its Shiva VPN Client Deployment Tool, Intel Corp. hopes it can make the chore not only easier for IT managers, but more economical as well.
“The Client Deployment Tool is really designed to help deploy large numbers of fully configured Intel VPN software clients,” explained Hala Saab, the national district manager for Shiva. “It uses a combination of e-mail and Web-based technology, it avoids laptop recalls, the IT manager doing installations on laptops or sending diskettes for users.”
Network administrators must first install the pre-configured client as an executable file on a Web server. The selected remote users then receive an e-mail containing a URL link as well as a password.
All users then have to do is visit that site, enter their password, and download the configuration, said Saab. “And it’s one time usage only,” she added. “Then once it’s downloaded, it starts doing its thing. The user only watches it, it installs, and he has the client installed on his laptop.”
To secure the transfer of information, the Client Deployment Tool supports the encryption of client configuration files and VPN authentication protocols, and also stores deployment information for tracking in cases of auditing.
The tool makes the process easier, Saab explained, because IT managers can configure a whole group, or a list of users.
The Tool is being targeted at Intel’s existing customer base, as well as new installations, according to Saab.
“If you’ve already implemented VPN, it’s already there, so you don’t need to buy the Client Deployment Tool unless you’re doing an extranet,” she said. “If you have an intranet in place, and you’re implementing an extranet, you’d need to buy this tool to help you. This way the extranet users can just log on and download and have the client there. It’s much easier for them.”
The VPN Client Deployment Tool would be helpful for both large- and medium-sized corporations, said Saab. And users need no experience at all, as it will even reboot for the user after downloading. The users don’t have to enter any configuration or set-up data either.
But mostly, she said, the tool will save valuable IT time, as less time will have to be devoted to support.
Tim Smith, principal analyst, WANs, at Stamford, Conn.-based Dataquest Inc., said the product has impressed him so far.
“I believe that any type of initiative that helps to automate what’s a complicated function for a service provider is one that is very useful,” said Smith.
Recent research from Dataquest shows that “enterprise users have a high degree of desire, I guess, to implement VPN capabilities,” he said. “So combining a ready source of consumers with service providers who want to do it, and then a tool that makes it happen easily, I think is probably a winning combination, so I think it’s a good announcement for them (Intel).”
Intel has also released the latest versions of its Shiva LanRover VPN Gateway Plus, Gateway, and Express versions 6.7. Saab recommends users update to the latest releases, which include unlimited client licences at no extra cost.
New and enhanced features for these include: an active Tunnels Summary Display; multiple authentication options, including support for SoftID; RADIUS authentication using Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP); and enhanced RADIUS accounting and auditing.
Existing Shiva LanRover VPN Gateway Plus, Express and Gateway customers have upgrade options available to them.
And while Dataquest’s Smith said Intel is not alone in the market with its new product, he believes its VPN Client Deployment Tool does have an advantage over other offerings.
“The thing that’s superior perhaps about Intel’s announcement is the automated download of client software, which I think is a significant thing,” Smith said.
The Shiva VPN Client Deployment Tool is now available, and is priced at US$5,000 for one corporate user or US$25,000 for multiple corporate users. The Intel Shiva LanRover VPN Gateway Plus 6.7 is priced from US$9,250, the Express is listed from US$3,495 and the Gateway is from US$6,200. All are available now, and come with unlimited client licences at no extra cost, according to the vendor.
For more information, go to www.shiva.com, or call 1-800-977-4482.