Nokia opens mobile VPN gateways

The Mighty Finn has lauched four new appliances targeting the security-conscious mobile worker

Nokia has expanded its virtual private network (VPN) appliance range with an eye on organisations which have remote offices and mobile workers.

The vendor is offering four IP VPN gateways -- accommodating anywhere from five to 10,000 users per appliance and starting at $395 as of February -- and mobile VPN technology for phones that use the Symbian operating system. Nokia is a major investor in Symbian.

The products will be based on IPSec and will sit alongside existing offerings that use SSL, another major type of IP VPN technology. IP VPNs are important for any organisation wanting to securely connect data, with Nokia identifying healthcare, financial services and government leading the way.

The devices that can be used to remotely tunnel in to corporate networks include phones and Communicators that use the Series 60 and Series 80 Nokia platforms, although Nokia VP Bob Brace, in the company's Enterprise Solutions division, pointed out the gateways can be used with any device that has an IPSec client, such as many laptops and desktop PCs.

"That's one reason why we're using IPSec and not anything proprietary," he said.

While one aim of offering such products is understandably to make it easier for organisations to make accessing corporate data from anywhere easier, there is also the challenge of some users -- perhaps more at smaller organisations -- seeing Nokia as a security player. The vendor's Enterprise Solutions division now handles that and other enterprise connectivity matters.

The company already partners with vendors such as Pointsec and Symantec to secure mobile devices, allowing files to be encrypted or remotely wiped as well as protected against viruses.

The new VPN gateways incorporate a Nokia technology called Meta-Hop which it says brings together VPN and routing functionality, which should make for connections that are less easily dropped.