Factors to consider with a managed S2S VPN

In a recent SearchSecurity webcast, speaker Lisa Phifer, vice president and owner of consulting firm Core Competence, addressed technological developments in virtual private networks. Here Lisa answers a user-submitted question that she didn't have time to answer during the broadcast. If you missed our webcast New directions in VPNs or would like to review it, you may listen to the recorded

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My company is rolling out a managed S2S VPN, replacing the existing Frame Relay. What are the "gotchas" or things that providers should provide?

Either MPLS or IPsec can be used to create a site-to-site VPN that replaces a private Frame Relay VPN. An MPLS-based managed VPN service is functionally closer to your existing Frame Relay service and will probably include direct control over quality-of-service metrics that you're used to controlling with FR. An IPsec-based managed VPN service usually focuses more on securing traffic over the public network and less on performance characteristics, so look carefully at QoS metrics and service-level agreements.

You'll also want to consider the location of VPN endpoints. MPLS managed services are often network-based services, where the managed service really starts at the edge of your provider's network. Some IPsec managed services are network-based, but most are based on customer premises equipment (CPE) deployed at the edge of your own network. CPE installation and configuration can raise cost, but provide security all the way to your site and can give you more direct control over VPN access to your network. Some providers also offer hybrid services with IPsec on the first hop and MPLS over the core.

To learn more about service characteristics, take a look at the S2S VPN table in my 2003 MSSP Survey for ISP-Planet.


This was first published in March 2004

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