The approach results from a collaboration by the two companies and allows customers to add a higher level of security to their networks without sacrificing service quality or adding complexity to their overall networking environment, the two firms assert.
Both companies contributed resources in framing business needs and in providing feedback on the enhanced encryption offering, which uses the Cisco "tunnelless" virtual private network based on Group Encrypted Transport (GET VPN) technology. Tested in the AT&T Proof-of-Concept Labs, this offering will be available to AT&T customers in the first quarter of 2007.
"MPLS networking has allowed IT departments to converge and simplify their network architecture," said William Archer, AT&T vice president. "AT&T and Cisco are the first to collaborate on a solution for encrypted, large-scale, meshed connectivity without compromising a customer's service-level agreement or adding network overhead. In addition to encryption, this solution reduces latency while increasing network efficiency. The result is delivery of a scalable, highly secure networking environment with improved customer experience and satisfaction."
As MPLS networks become more prevalent, business users increasingly ask for enhancements to their service, especially the ability to encrypt data on their already highly secure MPLS networks. This new technology creates a single, ultra-secure, encrypted connection -- known as a trusted group tunnel -- over an existing MPLS network, expanding encryption functionality while maintaining existing service level agreements.
The added ability for efficient scaling of encrypted connections that mimic the any-to-any nature of MPLS networks is the next step in the evolution of MPLS networks, AT&T and Cisco say. Customers can take advantage of this scaling capability without having to build large numbers of point-to-point tunnels.
As a result, companies with global enterprise networks can extend their voice, video, and data applications to more users without adding complexity and the increased costs of multiple links. It will further benefit security-conscious enterprises -- especially hospitals and health care institutions, financial services companies, and government agencies -- by providing a more manageable way to implement complex security policies on an MPLS network. Without this capability, customers would need to build a large number of tunnels if they wish to maintain their any-to-any MPLS capability with encryption, AT&T and Cisco say.
Cisco says that -- as an upgrade for the Cisco IOS software on Cisco integrated services routers, Cisco 7301 Routers, and Cisco 7200 Series Routers -- Cisco Group Encrypted Transport is easily installed and maintained on business networks, giving them greater flexibility in reconfiguring networks and distributing networked applications to more locations using the global reach and security of the AT&T network.
"We are extremely pleased to work with industry-leading, customer-focused providers such as AT&T in the deployment of Cisco technologies as the basis of managed services for business customers," said Dave Frampton, vice president of Cisco Access Technology Group. "AT&T's enhancement, offering a tunnelless VPN solution based on Cisco Group Encrypted Transport, represents a fundamental change in highly secure, distributed business communications, and offers true value to AT&T's customers and the broader business community."
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