SSL VPN From Your Smartphone

Secure VPN access to corporate apps from Windows smartphones

The SSL VPN is moving out to your smartphone: SSL VPN provider Aventail today will roll out full SSL VPN support for Windows Mobile Smartphones for more secure remote access to email and other corporate applications.

"Mobile VPNs are the future of remote access," says Robert Whiteley, senior analyst for enterprise networking at Forrester Research. "Right now, there is a fairly clear distinction between mobile VPNs -- VPNs optimized and specifically tailored for mobile environments -- and remote access VPNs, increasingly trending towards SSL VPNs. However, solutions like Aventail’s are closing the gap."

While RIM's BlackBerry still dominates the smartphone space, Whiteley and other analysts expect Microsoft's smartphone to eventually become the industry standard for corporate networks, mainly because BlackBerry requires its own infrastructure.

"Most companies would like to just leverage existing Exchange and Outlook capabilities, but it often requires less-than-optimal Exchange architectures relative to the DMZ." But with a VPN architecture, you can enable push email for Outlook as easily as setting up a BlackBerry Enterprise Server -- but as an all-Microsoft environment, he says.

"Because of the application support and flexibility, we predict that Microsoft will become the standard mobile platform of choice for mainstream organizations," he says. "Windows Mobile is gearing up."

Aventail's Connect Mobile for Smartphone will ship this summer as an add-on to its SSL VPN line. "This is not just email, but a VPN connection to any resource that you're authorized to access," says Chris Witeck, director of product management for Aventail. "It's the only SSL VPN support for the smartphone form factor."

The VPN add-on includes user authentication and digital certificates as device watermarks in addition to SSL session security. "And users can roam around and change [mobile] networks without having to re-authenticate," Witeck says.

It also works with BlackBerries and other non-Windows mobile devices, but for Web-based applications only.

Pricing for Aventail's Connect Mobile Smartphone starts at $995 and includes the lightweight clients. Aventail had previously provided support for Windows Mobile PDAs; the new product is for Windows Mobile versions 5 and 6 on smartphones.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Aventail Corp.
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Forrester Research Inc.