IP VPNs offer several advantages
over traditional connectivity methods like leased lines
and VSATs. P J Nath, Vice President - Sales & Marketing,
Sify Enterprise Solutions illustrates how IP VPNs can
help the enterprise. by Anil Patrick R
What are the
advantages that IP VPNs offer over traditional means
of connectivity like leased lines and VSATs?
IP VPNs essentially
represent an outsourced network model, where corporates
use a service provider's sophisticated managed IP network
to build their own connectivity. IP VPNs present a number
of advantages over building networks using leased lines
of building and managing a leased line network increases
as the size of the enterprise network increases. VSATs
require major infrastructure investments, time, and
resources to install and manage them. It is here that
IP VPNs prove to be the ideal solution. This is because
the VPN service provider already has a sophisticated
network infrastructure in place that a corporate can
leverage to build their enterprise network quickly.
The customer has to merely connect to the nearest Point
of Presence (PoP) of the VPN service provider.
Managing an organizationís
private network built on leased lines requires considerable
amount of skilled resources. VPN service providers,
on the other hand, have dedicated teams consisting of
highly trained manpower, high-end network monitoring
tools, and well-defined processes to ensure that the
network offers the highest level of reliability.
The major advantages of using IP VPNs over other
conventional means of connectivity are in terms
- Lesser complexity and better manageability
- Higher levels of scalability and flexibility
- Lesser chances of technology obsolescence
- Lesser Quality of Service (QoS) issues
- Lesser bandwidth limitations
- Lesser limitations due to absence of proprietary
- More cost of ownership benefits
A scenario where a VPN might be the perfect
fit involves combination(s) of the business requirements
- Where the number of locations is large (eg.
Above 20) and growing.
- There is the need for any-to-any connectivity
between the various locations.
- There are different types of applications
running on the network and some (or all) of
which are business/mission critical and hence
requiring the network to be having uptimes greater
than 99 percent.
- There is a need to optimize the performance
of the network by prioritizing some applications
over others; need for traveling employees to
connect to the Intranet while on the move.
Very often, there
is a major need to augment the corporate network at
very short notice due to changing business needs. Here
again, VPNs prove to be very effective solutions. The
network upgrade or change of topology can be done much
more easily as compared to doing the same on a private
leased line network.
service providers constantly upgrade their infrastructure
with the latest developments in technology, thereby
benefiting customers immediately. These customers get
the advantage of such investments of the service providers.
In the case of
VSATs, there is an issue of high latency (in excess
of 500 milliseconds), which is a cause of concern for
most CIOs as many applications do not work on such networks.
Moreover, higher latency in the network makes the user
experience poor. With a VPN, the basic backbone networks
typically consist of high-capacity leased lines with
high-end routing gear. This ensures that throughput
is very high for networks which are built on such infrastructure.
There is a limitation
in the bandwidth capacity that a VSAT network can offer.
In case of VPNs, there is virtually no limitation to
the size of the bandwidth that the end user can subscribe
with VSAT networks is that enterprises tend to get stuck
with one service provider because of investment in the
proprietary technology of the service provider. Ideally,
the reason for staying with a service provider should
be dictated by the QoS being delivered. It should not
be because of the proprietary nature of the technology
As the size of
the network and the diversity of applications that need
to be managed on the network grow, VPNs prove to be
far more cost-effective as compared to leased line based
or VSAT based networks.
Is there a methodology
in terms of ROI and TCO to justify
investing in VPNs?
Any network has
various cost elements, both in terms of recurring charges
as well as capital equipment costs.
are mainly on account of the leased line or VSAT usage
charges, manpower costs, and AMC for the equipment.
The capital cost is on account of the networking gear
required to build the network. The larger the network,
the more complex the networking gear becomes and hence,
over time suggests that after taking all the above into
account the TCO can typically come down by as much as
50 percent over three years, depending on the size and
complexity of the network. The larger the network, the
greater the scope for saving.
Are VPNs suitable
for companies of all sizes and IT setups?
VPNs are definitely
suitable for companies of all sizes. VPNs can be fine
tuned depending on the size of the company, in terms
of number of locations and their IT requirements. However,
it is important to note that VPNs are not to be considered
as a replacement of point-to-point leased lines.
For instance, if
one has the need to connect only two offices, a VPN
route can be much more expensive than connecting these
two locations using a leased line. On the other hand,
as the number of locations keep increasing, VPNs will
become more and more suitable.
What are the
latest trends in VPNs? How is the scenario in India
Globally, IP VPNs
have become the most accepted means of building enterprise
networks. IP VPNs are spanning across enterprises as
well as across the globe connecting all the value chain
partners to the enterprise network. The concept of Intelligent
IP Networks has caught on, where the same network is
used to transfer data, voice, and video with QoS guarantees.
A significant trend seen recently has been the merger
of the Frame Relay and MPLS forums. This has enabled
MPLS enabled networks to offer L2 MPLS or 'pseudo-wire
services'. The significant feature of these services
are the very high levels of security.
If you look at
the Indian scenario, IP VPNs have come a long way with
a strongly growing acceptance of this technology. In
fact, many large enterprises have been using IP VPNs
for the last four years, and have been very successful
in running mission critical applications. Another trend
seen in India is that enterprises are also increasingly
looking at connecting their value chain partners and
mobile workforce, particularly in industries like FMCG.
are still some limitations for IP VPNs, especially with
the manufacturing sector. Often, organizations build
their manufacturing facilities in far flung areas for
tax benefits. Some of these locations have very poor
telecom infrastructure and as such VSATs become the
only means of having reliable connections in these locations.
issue is that the current IP telephony guidelines allow
the domestic IP voice communication only in a Closed
User Group (CUG), thereby limiting the utility of VoIP
applications. As such, IP VPNs in India may take some
more time to become truly converged networks, a trend
that has already caught on in global markets.
Anil Patrick can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org