F5 Networks Inc and Aventail Corp, the two second-largest SSL VPN appliance makers, yesterday separately released product upgrades that aim to drive the goal of making secured remote network access ubiquitous.
Aventail talked up the 8.0 release of its SSL VPN platform, which it is calling the Smart SSL VPN because the company says the product has more automation of user and administrative tasks that in previous versions.
VP of product management and marketing Sarah Daniels said the improvements are a step towards the everywhere VPN. She said: Wherever you are, you should be able to get access to information you need.
Daniels said that the 8.0 system can automatically identify what device a remote user is using, determine what security software is running, check it for malware, then categorize it into a policy zone and decides which access methods and applications to enable.
The policy zones idea is new to the 8.0 version, Daniels said. Policies could be written to identify a secure controlled device and give it full IPSec-equivalent network access, but to give semi-secure roaming laptops only webmail and file access, for example.
Daniels said that this idea of zones, and Aventail’s object-oriented policy creation, also makes life easier for administrators, as it cuts down on the amount of policy writing that they need to do.
F5, meanwhile, announced that its FirePass appliance (which at the last count had surpassed Aventail’s own quarterly appliance sales for the first time) has been updated to support more types of access device.
F5 product manager Hari Krishnan said that FirePass 5.2 now supports Windows, Linux, Mac, PocketPC and iPAQ and Toshiba e800 PDAs. PocketPC support enables complete IPSec replacement not just application-level access, he said.
The software now has a faster hardware platform too, the 4100, Krishnan said. An optional SSL acceleration card offloads the encryption/decryption of SSL, as well as the handshaking acceleration enabled in previous versions, he said.
F5 also announced that the 4100 hardware can also run the TrafficShield application firewall, which F5 acquired from MagniFire this summer. Running both app-level firewall and app-level VPN on the same hardware is the first step of the integration plan for the products, Krishnan said.