BT sets up Hybrid VPN for remote offices

The Hybrid VPN service will allow workers to use the public internet to connect to their corporate VPN, which could help companies avoid multiple ISP contracts across several countries

BT has introduced a service that will allow remote employees to access corporate VPNs over the public internet.

The Hybrid VPN service, which is available in 130 countries, can be introduced across a business's international locations quickly, as it uses the public internet, according to BT. It could also allow organisations to provide VPN access to employees in places too distant or too expensive to be covered by their private VPN.

"When you get outside big cities in places like America, Australia or Africa, connectivity becomes incredibly expensive, and Hybrid VPN will be significantly cheaper than the alternatives," said James Moore, head of marketing with BT Optical and Ethernet Services.

The service could mean that companies do not have to maintain several contracts with ISPs across a number of countries. BT also expects the new service to be used as a backup for primary corporate VPN systems that use private circuits and satellite internet access.

Hybrid VPN is being provided via BT's global 21CN, an IP-based network used to deliver IT services. It is part of the BT Intelligent Networks line of products. The company said it will shortly roll out a Hybrid VPN for customers of its Intelligent Virtual Private Network (iVPN) service, which is based on multi-label protocol switching (MPLS).

The pricing of the new service will be critical, according to Scott Morrison, a research analyst at Gartner. "This is something most of the big carriers are doing — Verizon and AT&T offer this, and in the UK companies like Cable & Wireless and Orange Business Services have done similar things," said Morrison. "BT will need to make the pricing attractive in the market, without under-cutting and potentially cannibalising its MPLS business."

BT said pricing will depend on the local cost of connectivity, with the Hybrid VPN being charged on a per site, rather than per user, basis.

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