VPN maker eyes extranets

Aventail repositions its software as some powerful companies move in to the virtual private network market.

Moving out of Microsoft's way, Aventail has repositioned its virtual private network software as security software for extranets.

The goal: To differentiate itself from the plethora of VPN companies as Microsoft and Cisco Systems add VPN technologies to their offerings. ExtraNet Center version 3.0 is a successor to the company's Aventail VPN software.

"We've gone to where we can differentiate ourselves," said Aventail's Rob Spence, vice president of marketing. "We are continuing to add new features, but a majority of them are on the extranet, especially for non-employee users, and to integrate with partners that you don't control."

Aventail sees the VPN market as splitting into a segment for linking two local area networks over the Net and another for connecting remote users who dial in from home, the road, or a small remote office, Spence said.

"Split out from that is the extranet functionality that requires more security and different sorts of users--it's a new marketplace that has that requirement," he added.

It also gets Aventail out of the path of Microsoft and Cisco, which are putting low-level VPN technology into their operating systems and network devices.

By positioning its offering for extranet use, Aventail also gets behind a hot industry buzzword. It markets ExtraNet Center as the only extranet-ready platform that delivers security, centralized management, and application and network integration for building an extranet.

The client/server software addresses issues that arise when corporations open up internal data to suppliers and customers, including access controls so outsiders only see designated data. It runs on most operating systems and works with any firewall, encryption and authentication method, and proxy server.

It supports not only Web applications but also IP applications including Java, ActiveX, Corba, Dcom+, custom corporate applications, and client/server applications from SAP, Baan, and PeopleSoft.

"Our clients are wrestling with how to safely deploy and maintain enterprise commerce activities with key customers, partners, and suppliers," analyst Jim Hurley of Aberdeen Group said in a statement. "Aventail ExtraNet Center is positioned to meet this need."

Aventail ExtraNet Center will be available in November through Aventail's worldwide sales team and VARs. Pricing will be available when the product is released.

Aventail sees V-One and VPNet as getting into the extranet market, along with enCommerce and Netegrity. But it's also finding the big systems integrator, especially those with SAP practices, are potential resellers of the new product.

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