Blessed are the Geeks, for they shall internet the earth

IPVPN  vs.  Frame Relay
The ins and outs of a new generation of networking
Dell Crill

If you hadn't noticed the big 4 ie. AT&T, Sprint, Bellsouth and Verizon are all pushing a so called new product called IPVPN (internet protocol virtual private network) Total Business Solution. They consider this technology to be the best deal on the market and will far surpass the capabilities of a conventional frame circuit or ATM (asynchronous mode transfer). As company networks get more robust, many are venturing into Voice over IP and Video Conferencing. When the sales reps get wind your looking at VOIP and Data transfer over the same medium the IPVPN light burns bright. I say Beware Indiana Jones and choose your services wisely.

Lets look at this service a bit closer. The objective is to offer higher access speeds, higher through put, bandwidth management and network security. On the VOIP side they offer services such as control calling parameters (time & place authorizations), call routing, dialing plans, accounting functions and video conferencing all rapped up in one nominal monthly fee.  

Sounds great right? Well, hold your forward buttons. The catch, you loose control of your network outside your router. You share bandwidth with every other business utilizing their intranet for facilitation. In a nutshell it seems to be the same as using PC anywhere over the internet behind a $300 dollar firewall.  Is the security really all that? Well, no need to worry about internet intrusion, but what about users within the intranet? Can we be sure they will provide all necessary security on a daily basis? As for the Telecom side of the solution, 90% of todays telephone systems with VOIP capability will provide your company with call routing, call accounting, dialing plans and voice recording. These are services you probably have already.

The cost of the IPVPN network is considerably more expensive than convention frame and private line solutions. The pitch from sales professionals that entice your VIPs to swallow the price-The provider will take control of your network management and allow you to cut one or two FTEs from your payroll. What a great savings right? I will trade you 2 FTEs for a service you cannot be positive you are receiving or have management control of. In my book this is not a good trade off!

Don�t get me wrong the technology of  ip virtual private networks does work well. I would probably recommend it for a small business start up due to the cost of searching for seasoned professionals with the knowledge and skills to implement a network solution. You must be cautious and design a network that is useful to your company and not just another new solution to the same old problems. Over 45,000 companies are currently utilizing frame relay service and will continue to do so for many years to come. With the proper sizing and design the frame relay will support all of todays high bandwidth requirements while keeping the control of your network where it belongs, on your desktop!

Dell Crill
Tele-Systems Engineer