As customers start using mobile devices, they are using fewer VPN-enabled desktops. Are there new V

Network service providers have an opportunity to capture the market created by customers who have mobile employees by offering VPN gateways that adapt to changes in network connectivity.

Most laptop users can be satisfied by IPsec or SSL remote access VPNs. But workers who carry PDAs, smartphones, point-of-sale terminals, barcode scanners, and other mobile devices require different solutions.

One reason is the platform itself. Mobile devices run different operating systems and have tiny screens and limited battery life. It's possible to find IPsec and SSL VPNs that support Windows Mobile or Symbian or Palm. But that requires interoperability testing, client software, and licenses -- and will probably have an impact on VPN installation and configuration processes. VARs can fill this gap by selling known-compatible mobile client software with the traditional VPN offerings.

A much bigger market opportunity involves the sale of mobile VPN products. By mobile VPNs, I don't mean clients that run on mobile devices. I mean different VPN gateways that adapt transparently to changes in network connectivity. When a PDA roams from a Wi-Fi hotspot to 3G cellular and back again, a mobile VPN can make those transitions invisible to the user and choose the best available link. Companies with on-the-go workers who just can't get their jobs done without seamless connectivity will pay for that privilege. VARs can tap into this emerging mobility market by selling new mobile VPN solutions, available from companies like NetMotion and Columbitech.

This was first published in December 2007

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