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5/17/2006
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VPN Users Get Spike Protection

Aventail's on-demand licensing expected to ease disaster recovery woes

In volleyball, spikes are a good thing; in prison breaks and network management, not so much.

To help enterprises handle the inevitable spikes in traffic, VPN gateway vendor Aventail introduced today its Spike License Pack, which allows customers to buy short-duration licenses that can be activated during emergency or peak periods. Organizations can buy 30- and 90-day licenses.

And if your company is activating the license, you're most likely in emergency mode; therefore, Aventail is including its Platinum Assurance 24x7 customer service to try to resolve any problems quickly.

Aventail says companies will use Spike License Pack for two reasons: Peak-access periods like retail holidays or financial season deadlines; and for disaster recovery, where large numbers of users may need to access resources at a cold or hot backup site.

Experts point out that customers will often negotiate private arrangements with vendors for on-demand, short-term licenses. But the drawbacks are that licenses expire or don't get activated quickly enough to help.

"Many companies operate remote-access systems near capacity to save money, but doing so is a bad idea for disaster preparedness," writes John Girard, VP at the Gartner consultancy, in a research note. "All remote-access gateways should be designed with spare capacity, not only for emergencies, but also for better overall performance. If your remote-access program doesn't run like a well-oiled machine under normal circumstances, then it has no chance of weathering an emergency."

The Spike License Pack is available only on two of Aventail's VPN appliances -- the EX-1500, which supports 25 to 50 extra users; and the EX-2500, supporting 100 to 2,000 extra users. The EX-750 with its 25-user capacity, doesn't scale high enough to warrant a Spike License Pack offering.

The new licensing is unusual in the SSL VPN access space where many products are licensed on a per-device basis and not on a per-user basis. However, the cost savings for Aventail customers can be huge. For example, on an EX-1500 appliance licensed for 100 users with a 150-user Spike License Pack, the list prices are:

  • 30-day duration at $1,488 for a single appliance or high-availability pair, or

  • 90-day duration at $3,719 for a single appliance or HA pair.

The savings are sizeable when compared to a permanent upgrade of 150 additional users at $11,000 for a single appliance, or $17,600 for an HA pair. In addition, consider that Aventail's per-user pricing for 150 permanent licenses on a single appliance is roughly $73 per user, which, according to market research, is slightly below industry averages. The 30- and 90-day licenses are $9.92 per user and $24.79 per user, respectively.

— Mike Fratto, Editor at Large, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this story

  • Aventail Corp.
  • Gartner Inc.

    Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics ... View Full Bio

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