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November 2007 | Volume 10/ Number 11
Case Study

SSL VPN From Enterprise to SMB

The Customer

MegaPath is a provider of IP communications services to North American businesses, including broadband connectivity, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), VoIP, and security solutions. Its goal is to provide solutions that enable its customers to realize cost savings while increasing security and enhancing productivity through advanced communications solutions connecting main offices, branches, retail outlets, mobile staff, and other partners.

The company provides managed SSL VPS services to several Fortune 5000 businesses in a variety of verticals, as well as MPLS VPNs to retail customers. It also provides secure Internet and voice services to more than 20,000 SMB customers.

The Challenge

Back in 2006, when Netifice Communications merged with MegaPath, the decision was made to supplement the existing SSL VPN offering with a multi-customer platform with which it would be able to engage the SMB market even more vigorously through its already healthy distribution channel and substantial customer base.

In order to accomplish this, MegaPath needed to find a vendor that would enable it to deliver that wider range of SSL VPN services to address the SMB community, including having the ability to grow its network support capacity.

We've seen demand for SSL VPN services extend from large enterprises to the SMB market, explains Abel Nelson, Executive Director, Managed SSL Services. Service-oriented customers, such as legal, accounting, and consulting firms, want remote access for employees, while others, such as manufacturers and healthcare providers, are looking for a solution that enables access for partners via an extranet.

He explained that, while the specific applications vary from vertical to vertical, the underlying need for a secure, reliable managed SSL VPN service is remains constant. Thus, the plan was put in motion to expand the SSL VPN service offering from a purely large enterprise play to developing a hosted model for SMB customers.

In order to introduce a remote access solution that was both manageable and scalable, so as to meet the needs of MegaPath's diverse Fortune 5000 and SMB customer base, it struck out in search of a solution that would be able to provide secure remote access to a variety of end user machines.

The Solution

After evaluating and weighing several options, MegaPath chose Juniper Networks' SA series appliances, which would allow it to scale its SSL VPN services without sacrificing performance or reliability.

For its managed SSL VPN service, MegaPath deploys a dedicated SA 4000 appliance on the customer premises. The hosted solution runs on shared SA 6000 appliances, using Juniper Networks' Instant Virtual Systems (IVS) for multi-customer virtualization.

With the SA 4000 appliances, MegaPath is able to create secure customer/partner extranets, without having to change its customers' existing infrastructure or deploying new DMZs or software agents. Secure Access Dynamic Access privilege management provides secure access to corporate intranets, while adhering to security policies.

Juniper's SA 6000 uses SSL, common to all Web browsers, for secure transport, enabling remote access to mobile workers and contractors without requiring client software or ongoing maintenance. The SA 6000 Instant Virtual Systems feature set lets MegaPath host multiple customers on a single appliance, with simple management, yet secure traffic segregation and unique security policy configuration for each individual customer.

With the extension of its SSL VPN services, MegaPath also needed to expand its network to support both companies' customers, for which it deployed Juniper's M-series routers. The multi-service M-series edge routers allow MegaPath to consolidate multiple networks into a single infrastructure, while still delivering services to its host of customers, maximizing revenue potential and lowering operational costs.

With Juniper M-series routers in our core, we have already experienced [added] scalability and performance, and have been impressed with the futureproof nature of the platform, said Nelson.

Nelson added that the breadth of Juniper's product line, along with the fact that many of its customers were already happy with the Juniper solutions they were already using made the decision easier.

Many of our customers were already deploying Juniper Networks solutions with great success, and even went so far as to request a Juniper-based SSL VPN service - you can't get a better endorsement than that, he said

The Results

Now, with the Juniper solution in place, MegaPath is able to not only meet the needs of its traditional SSL VPN customers, but also those of its growing retail and SMB customer base as well.

The solution offers visibility and access to a variety of end user devices, leveraging the user identity, security features, and network configurations, ultimately providing a secure anytime, anywhere access solution that meets the evolving needs of today's communications environment.

With its new managed SSL VPN services, MegaPath says it is able to build its customer relationship, because it is able to add substantial value, far beyond traditional network access. The company also believes the new solution is a market differentiator and significantly improves customer loyalty.

The SSL VPN solution gives us scalability and flexibility, enabling MegaPath to deploy a single platform capable of supporting different customer requirements while allowing us to leverage economies of scale, said Nelson.

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