The two companies will offer hardware and software products that employ the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), a software technology that encapsulates data from IPX, NetBIOS, NetBEUI, and IP-based networks in secure packets for transmission across the Internet.
Microsoft announced that it will incorporate the PPTP protocol in version 4.0 of its Windows NT Server. Ascend will implement PPTP in its entire line of Ascend MAX switches, which are used by hundreds of Internet service providers (ISPs) worldwide, Ascend officials said. Products that use PPTP are expected to appear from both companies in the second quarter.
With PPTP, both companies hope to capitalize on the growing interest in using the Internet as virtual private networks (VPN) that offer security comparable to private networks for a fraction of the cost. Over a VPN, remote users, for example, can make free local phone calls to an ISP to connect over the Net to a corporate database instead of having to go through privately installed networks.
To set up a VPN using PPTP technology, corporations will have to purchase an Ascend MAX switch and a Windows NT Server. Their ISP will also have to support PPTP on their switches. UUNET, one of the largest ISPs in the business market, today pledged support for PPTP, and Ascend officials said that other ISPs should follow their lead.