December 27, 2000, 2:21 PM — Cisco is trying to make it possible to extend VPNs to hotels, airports and other public places via wireless connections.
Cisco has announced its Internet Mobile Office, a partnership with several other companies with the idea to let roaming enterprise users connect via wireless Internet links.
Customers would install a Cisco Aironet wireless LAN card in their laptops, and when they are near a participating service provider's wireless access point, they could connect to the Internet. These access points could be in airports, hotels or even chain stores. Aironet cards support access speeds up to 11M bit/sec. Participating service providers would use Aironet wireless access points to pick up customer transmissions.
The success of Internet Mobile Office relies on customers having VPN software on their laptops and at the central sites that the roaming users are trying to access. Also, the ISP must be using an Aironet access point.
You could set up your own VPN hardware and software, and run secure connections over the Internet via any ISP's connections, as long as your wireless gear interoperates with theirs.
Cisco has taken some of the hassles out of this scenario by enlisting system integrators and ISPs to buy into the company's model. This way, you can go to one of them and have them set the whole thing up for you. This is especially attractive if you are short on staffing to dedicate to such a project.
Cisco also has hardware and software to link users into the VPN from wireline connected sites.