If you need to connect 1,000 locations to a WAN and minimize your network access expenses in a secure, low-cost package, a VPN might be the ticket.

Because VPNs use the Internet backbone to establish high-speed, secure links between telecommuter or branch offices and a corporate network, they’re thought to be less expensive than other remote access networks. However, the intangible management costs may cloud the real savings.

You can find managed VPN services from a variety of carriers and ISPs, including AT&T, Genuity, Qwest, Sprint, Verizon and WorldCom. Managed services pricing varies depending on the type of network access, security and performance guarantees you’re looking for, so the only real way to get a solid estimate is to issue a request for proposal outlining your needs.

Most managed VPN services provide fairly consistent features, including:

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada