Historically, opening up this complex realm to remote partners, suppliers, and employees, while ensuring network protection, has been one of the great hurdles to a successful remote-access deployment. As a result, enterprises are turning towards SSL-based VPNs to satisfy the demands of today’s more heterogeneous enterprise networks.
Today’s leading SSL VPNs take this approach one step further, by consolidating three application-access technologies into a single application-layer gateway device:
- Clientless, browser-based access to remote legacy applications
- Secure intranet access to Web-based applications and portals Desktop access for client/server applications over SSL tunneling
While the number of Web-based intranet applications is certainly growing within the enterprise, non-Web-enabled, legacy applications – those residing on centralized Windows, UNIX/Linux, mainframes and AS/400 machines – still form the vital core of enterprise applications in use today. For IT managers seeking to provide secure remote access, the challenge is to leverage these crucial legacy applications in a simple way that provides the same on-demand access to centralized information as their Web-enabled counterparts.
Some SSL VPN appliances solve this dilemma by providing clientless, remote access to legacy applications through the incorporation of Web-enabling technology directly within the platform. This integrated approach eliminates the need for enterprises to deploy and maintain server-based “middleware” and associated remote-access clients. In this model, both the client and server portions of an application are centrally hosted in the corporate data center. The advantage of this approach is that end users need only a browser to access these remotely located applications; no additional software or configuration of the remote computer is needed.
An SSL VPN appliance makes client/server applications available to remote users through the Web, allowing companies to leverage their existing legacy application infrastructure without costly application re-development or installing and configuring remote PCs. Any program, running on any platform – Windows, UNIX and LINUX, or 3270 mainframe and 5250 AS/400 – can thus be made easily available to remote users.
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