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2/1/2007
02:19 PM
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Microsoft Unveils SSL VPN Server Software

The company's Intelligent Application Gateway is based on technology it acquired from Whale Communications in 2006.

Microsoft on Thursday launched new software that combines SSL VPN technology it acquired in 2006 with its own Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server), and announced at least two OEMs have signed on to produce gateway appliances running the new product.

Dubbed the "Intelligent Application Gateway 2007" (IAG 2007), the new software blends perimeter security from ISA Server with secure remote access. Most enterprises use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to secure connections between outside-the-company machines and the network so that users can safely retrieve e-mail and access applications.

Two equipment makers -- Celestix Networks Inc. and Network Engines Inc. -- have signed on to produce the hardware appliances which will run IAG 2007. Microsoft, meanwhile, will sell CALs, or Client Access Licenses, that allow a specific number of users to access the appliances. Microsoft will sell an IAG 2007 CAL for $22 retail.

Much of the technology that went into IAG 2007 came from Whale Communications, which Microsoft bought last summer. "But we simplified it and made it cost effective," says Joel Sloss, senior product manager for Microsoft's edge security group. "We moved it away from a dual server design so that everything is on one motherboard. That reduces the cost point and reduces the maintenance as well."

The licensing model -- server software licensed only to hardware manufacturers, CALs to users -- is a traditional Microsoft practice. "This is the way that Microsoft licenses technology, and what customers understand," says Sloss.

It also gives Microsoft's entry a competitive advantage, Sloss thinks. "The way the rest of the industry licenses, ala carte, is too complex and too expensive."

The goal, says Sloss, is to build out Microsoft's secure remote access technology while expanding the market. "We want to bring SSL VPN to the masses," says Sloss.

Network Engines on Thursday launched two appliances, the NS-IAG and NS-4700, for as much as $13,000, while Celestix will launch three models next week in a $6,000 to $13,000 price range.

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