Bay's switch 'tunnels' over Internet

Bay Networks Inc. this week will introduce an extranet switch that gives smaller agencies a less expensive alternative to more traditional remote-access equipment and dial-up services.

Bay's Extranet Switch 1000 connects remote users to an organization's internal intranet over the public Internet. It sets up a secure, private link or "tunnel" over the Internet. This tunnel, known as a Virtual Private Network (VPN), eliminates the need for more costly dial-up access via modems or leased lines.

"The Extranet Switch leverages the public Internet and avoids the need of constantly upgrading modems and maintaining modem banks," said Kieran Taylor, extranet access product marketing manager at Bay. "The cost savings can be dramatic."The product also enables government workers to work from home with a secure connection. "Telecommuters and mobile users in the government— and even agency customers— can use it to access the agency network," said Dan Kent, systems engineering manager at Bay's federal office. "They don't need to pay for an 800 service or a [leased] T-1 service.

"The ES 1000 combines VPN services with authentication, bandwidth management, routing, firewall capabilities and directory-enabled access. A feature in the switch called directory-enabled provisioning lets an administrator make a change in a local central directory and have the change pushed out to other devices on the network.

"We understand that users need to configure networks with end users in mind. Directory-enabled provisioning really simplifies user adds, moves and changes," Taylor said. "Extranets are quite unique in that they are dynamic, and you need the ability to make changes dynamically in software."

The switch supports various directory protocols, including the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. In addition, a new version— Version 1.5— of the company's Extranet Switch Software adds support for Novell Inc. IPX and NetWare Directory Services. The software also comes with advanced Java-based monitoring and reporting and adds support for tunneling protocols such as Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol and IPsec.

The ES 1000 fills out the company's line of extranet switches, which already includes the ES 4000 and the ES 2000. The 1000 supports 50 simultaneous users and is designed for small- to medium-size organizations. However, Taylor said, "You're likely to be able to serve a network much larger than that."

The higher-capacity ES 4000 supports 200 to 2,000 simultaneous users, and the ES 2000 supports 50 to 200 simultaneous users. Bay acquired the extranet switch technology in January when it acquired privately held New Oak Communications.

Bay has no direct competition in the emerging extranet switch market, said Ronald Westfall, staff analyst at Current Analysis Inc. "We can anticipate that other vendors [such as] Cisco and Ascend will come out with competitive products, but Bay is ahead of the curve," Westfall said.

Extranet solutions can either be a replacement for traditional remote-access systems or can "certainly reduce the costs of them," Westfall said. "Extranets have that ability."Bay will add the extranet switch to the General Services Administration schedule and other contracts, such as the Air Force's Unified Local-Area Network Architecture II program and the Navy's PC LAN +. Its list price is $7,000.


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