Give VPNs a test drive –

BALTIMORE -- Information Resource Engineering (IRE) has a new family of virtual private network gear for customers who want to experiment with VPNs before making a big capital investment in VPN equipment.

SafeNet/Speed dedicated VPN hardware encrypts LAN traffic so it can be securely sent across IP nets, including the Internet, and is designed so VPN neophytes can test it inexpensively on a small scale.

If users like what they see, they can then boost the performance of the gear with hardware and software

add-ons that can support more users.

"A lot of people are in pilot mode right now and are not looking to hugely invest in VPNs," says Jeff Wilson, an analyst with Infonetics Research, a market research firm in San Jose. Infonetics just issued results of a survey asking 225 enterprise network professionals who specialize in remote access what their plans were for using VPNs.

The SafeNet/Speed gear is attached to a corporate LAN and encrypts designated traffic as it passes through the box. The equipment also establishes IP tunnels with other IRE-compatible devices. That lets customers use the Internet to securely connect corporate sites and allows for remote access over the Internet.

The SafeNet base model, Speed-FE, processes packets at up to 1.5M bit/sec, or fast enough to handle about 100 encrypted tunnels, IRE says.

The mid-level model, Speed-RFE, processes packets at up to 10M bit/sec or about 1,000 tunnels. And at the high end, Speed-SFE handles up to 45M bit/sec or up to 4,000 tunnels.

Upgrading the FE to the RFE or SFE requires opening the box to install an additional processing card and new software, says Sherry Quinn, Speed product manager. The gear supports IPSec-Plus, IRE's version of the IP Security standard for authentication, tunneling, encryption and key management.

Speed-FE costs $1,295 and is available now. Speed-RFE costs $4,995, and

Speed-SFE costs $9,995. Both will be available in September. Upgrading from Speed-FE costs $3,895. The price for upgrading to Speed-SFE has not been set.


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