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Authentication tops list of teleworking concerns

Authentication and reliability are the top concerns for network admins setting up teleworker VPNs, according to Sage Research. It also says one vendor in particular is dominating the market.

A new Sage Research report discovered security and authentication are IT professionals' top concerns when it comes to the growing phenomenon of telework. And when the decision is made to extend IT infrastructures into employees' homes, the report said Cisco Systems Inc. is the preferred vendor for VPN products.

Sage Research, a Natick, Mass.-based market research firm that focuses on enterprise use of IT, recently released a report outlining the practice of teleworking -- defined as the extension of the corporate IT infrastructure to employees' homes -- and the preferred vendors for those VPN products.

The report said that 47% of the IT professionals named network security and authentication as their organization's top concern associated with telework. Chris Neal, Sage's research director, said the choice of VPN vendor becomes important with these concerns in mind.

"We found that user authentication was a major concern when setting up teleworkers, and so is the reliability of the VPN connection," Neal said. "This means VPN products are front and center when supporting teleworkers."

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When the 95 respondents in this survey named their preferred VPN product vendor, 64% said Cisco, 14% said Nortel Networks Ltd. and 8% said Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

Neal said Cisco entered the remote network security market with significant brand momentum. However, he said the networking giant was somewhat behind competitors until it added support for SSL VPNs in late 2003. Since then it has leveraged its weight from other sectors to gain strength in the space.

Neal said Cisco's also owes its success in part to its single-vendor approach. He said many enterprises see value in purchasing all their networking equipment from one vendor, and then having a single point of contact for support.

Finding Cisco as the preferred vendor, Neal said, didn't come as a big surprise. According to Neal, there is a lot of comfort in the Cisco name.

"It's a belief that a lot of IT professionals go by," Neal added. "They say, 'No one's ever been fired for choosing Cisco.'"

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