Your choice of VPN needn’t be limited to mainstream IPSec or SSL solutions. One startup, IP Dynamics, provides a particularly interesting alternative. The company’s Secure VCN (Virtual Community Network) is a carrier-class, software-based solution that connects people and resources across geographic and technical boundaries. It requires no hardware at the end-user’s location and provides secure end-to-end IP communication.
VCN is a new way of looking at VPN connectivity. End-users and resources are members of one or more communities. These communities allow for peer-level TCP/IP communication between group members. Community members have full, network-level access to each other, just as if they were physically connected to the same subnet, allowing all IP applications to run smoothly over the connection. But unlike an IPSec tunnel or local network connection, Secure VCN supports per-user access control, encryption, and authentication rules.
Hasan Alkhatib, president and CEO of IP Dynamics, describes these communities as a virtual IP network or virtual subnet. “Secure VCN provides a peer-to-peer IP relationship between users, allowing applications such as VoIP (voice over IP) to traverse NAT without any problems,” he says. Installing the client software does not require any configuration changes to firewalls and even takes care of IP address conflicts such as duplicate network addresses.
With the Secure VCN system, user-to-user security replaces user-to-gateway security. Traffic is encrypted all the way to the destination PC. With an IPSec or SSL VPN, traffic is encrypted to the gateway, then unencrypted to the destination PC on the remote LAN. Also, scalability is virtually unlimited with Secure VCN. It’s a client software application, unfettered by the capacity limitations of a firewall or VPN appliance. Adding users simply means installing more clients.
IP Dynamics has already struck carrier deals in the United States with SBC Communications, and is in trials and rollouts with other carriers. Alkhatib said the plan is to offer Secure VCN as a “self-service application” from carriers, so that users can download the program and get billed for it with the rest of their monthly services. Monthly per-user costs average between $15 and $20.