SmartPipes about to surface

By Tim Greene, Network World |  Networking

Things must be pretty heady these days around SmartPipes, what with the start-up’s close affiliation with some of the biggest names in networking and the imminent launch of its first services.

SmartPipes sells a service that enables Internet service providers to sell simple VPN services to their enterprise customers.

The SmartPipes model calls for customer sites to be equipped with either Cisco routers or Windows 2000 servers, a profile the company says fits 80% of enterprises.

The company is working toward delivering its service to WorldCom sometime this spring, with the idea that WorldCom will use it to back a new VPN service.

In SmartPipes’ model, enterprise customers would sign up for a VPN service backed by the SmartPipes network of provisioning software and service directories. Once customers’ sites are registered in the directory, customers can provision changes to their VPN via a secure Web connection using just a browser. The idea is to reduce the difficulty in reconfiguring routers and servers site-by-site using command-line interfaces -- a time-consuming job that requires a high-level tech to perform it.

Instead, a less-experienced tech can log on and make policy changes via a simplified interface. SmartPipes provisioning software connects with the individual machines and performs all the detailed, line-by-line provisioning necessary to carry out the policies. The result is it takes less time and costs the enterprise less money.

Of course there is a monthly fee involved, but SmartPipes claims that if you compare the costs to doing it yourself, you will be convinced.

It looks like WorldCom will be the first to offer a SmartPipes-powered service, and when it rolls out, it will be worth checking out. You may already have the gear you need to set up a VPN, and you may find a provider that can make it work more easily and less costly.

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