Nokia's Communicator VPN bundle threatens vendors

Cut off their spectrum supply?

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Nokia Corp's decision to bundle a wireless virtual private network (VPN) client with its latest Communicator model could threaten the existence of specialist vendors if the practice becomes widespread. The company also hopes the move will entice new buyers for its established VPN products,

writes Tony Cripps.

The latest Symbian-powered 9210i Communicator comes bundled with Nokia's wireless VPN client software, the first such device to be so enabled out-of-the-box.

The development could leave wireless VPN specialists such as Certicom Corp and Columbitech AB floundering if other device manufacturers choose to bundle their own VPN clients as standard.

Bob Brace, VP of Nokia Mobile Solutions, told ComputerWire that the company may supply its VPN client to other members of the Symbian partnership, a move that would limit the outlets for alternative products from specialist vendors.

This problem could be escalated by Nokia's intention of making the VPN client a free download for users of the earlier 9210 version of the Communicator.

"We're not planing to charge," said Brace "The wireless VPN client licensing model is dated. I'm not sure how other companies that make clients will sell them."

Instead, Nokia sees the inclusion of the VPN client with the 9210i as a carrot to attract buyers to its corporate VPN products.

While interoperability with VPN gateways other than Nokia's own has not been extensively tested, Brace said that the use of the IPSec standard should make the 9210i compatible with most third party options, for instance those from Cisco Systems and Check Point Software Technologies (indeed, Nokia licenses Check Point's VPN technology).

Nokia's wireless VPN technology follows the most usual route of using IPSec for network level security. This is a path also taken by Certicom although a small band of others, notably Sweden's Columbitech, utilize wireless transport layer security (WTLS) to provide wireless VPN security at the application layer.

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