Getting teleworkers up to speed.
As telework begins to rise, to the delight of home-based workers and budget-minded companies alike, technology purveyors are racing to provide products for this new breed of employee. Makers of VPNs are finding that demand is rising for better remote access, and the security that needs to go with it. Reggie Best, co-founder, president and CEO of Somerset-based Netilla Networks, has seen the market heating up, and he talks about why his company is ready to meet the need.
You’ve founded two other startups, Teleos and AccessWorks Communications. What inspired you to start another?
The idea behind Netilla was to make corporate networks accessible from anywhere, securely and affordably. The Netilla Service Platform enables a company’s remote workers or business partners to quickly and securely access their corporate applications and files from any location using a standard Web browser. The beauty of the Netilla solution is that we combine the Internet’s ability to make information available virtually anywhere with the security requirements that are essential to safeguarding this privileged data.
This makes you a leader in the VPN market, where there are many other players. How do you distinguish yourself?
Obviously, the VPN market is a very broad category, encompassing a huge variety of products. Netilla’s specialty is in the remote access space, and we have several key advantages. Our use of “thin client” technology means users don’t need to worry about installing either a VPN client or an application on their PC. Authorized users need only a standard Internet browser to access their corporate applications and files. Also, our service platform is very easy to use, and has universal application access. For multi-layer security, Netilla leverages the 128-bit SSL encryption contained in today’s Web browsers; the same technology that enables e-commerce by securing credit card transactions.
Why should companies be considering SSL Web VPNs for their telework needs?
Because it can be much simpler and more cost-effective to implement, compared to more traditional VPN technologies such as IPSec, which was originally designed for site-to-site applications such as linking branch offices to headquarters, not individual remote access. It requires configuring an IPSec client onto a PC, which can be time consuming and impractical for a network of remotely based machines. In contrast, SSL was one of the first e-commerce tools and was used to support business-to-consumer commerce, an application that’s closely related to remote access for individual users.
Why would this kind of VPN be cost-effective, compared to an IPSec implementation?
An SSL Web VPN can be up to 40 percent less expensive in term of total cost of ownership over three years. This is an important yardstick that takes into account all costs, not just hardware and software, but service, support and help desk functions. The cost of maintaining and troubleshooting an IPSec-based network of remote machines can add up quickly; Netilla’s clientless solution reduces that support to virtually zero.
What kinds of major concerns do you see from clients who want to install a VPN, and how does Netilla address those concerns?
Security, ease of administration and functionality are three prime concerns of organizations that are looking to implement this kind of solution. Netilla is a highly secure solution, leveraging the encryption technology contained in today’s browsers along with digital certificates and powerful authentication systems. Ease of administration is critical, because of the time and cost of effort involved when you’re dealing with a network of remote PCs. Maintaining remote PCs can become a real nightmare. Netilla solved those problems by providing a high-functionality, clientless VPN that eliminated the need to configure PCs remotely.
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