Asia becoming remotely accessible, says IDC

Enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region will steadily increase their use of remote access services throughout 1998 by raising the number of access ports available to them.

The Asia-Pacific Hardware-based Remote Access Servers (RAS) Survey for the first half of 1997, conducted by International Data Corp. (IDC), revealed that the emergence of the Internet in the region is the single most important factor driving up such demand for remote access here.

RAS, as defined by the survey, are dial-in devices that are part of a network, connecting remote users to a local area network (LAN).

Remote access networking technology encompasses several technologies. Among these are LAN-to-LAN dial-up router applications that allow remote branch LANs to connect to corporate headquarters; and remote-control systems and software that permit users to get on to a LAN and gain access to a particular PC. RAS also facilitate client-to-LAN environments where remote node connections are provided to telecommuters.

According to IDC, Internet service providers (ISPs) constitute the largest customer base in Asia-Pacific for RAS products.

In fact, remote access demand echoes the rate of the Asia-Pacific Internet growth which IDC describes as "phenomenal". At the supply end, there are many vendors attacking the common Internet territory. For the survival of vendors catering to this market, product differentiation, pricing strategies and channel relationships are critical.

IDC primarily tracked two segments of the client-to-LAN remote access market for the survey. The fixed port RAS segment covers products marketed and focused primarily at users requiring low-cost remote LAN access with simplified management. These products offer a fixed number of ports, between four and 32. They do not offer the ability to concentrate users on an ISDN primary rate interface (PRI) line.

The other segment, the RAS concentrator space, is made up of digital dial-in ports that can handle a large number of dial-in calls simultaneously. Concentrators take incoming analogue or ISDN-based calls and channel them into a large pipe. These devices are deployed in high-volume remote access environments, typically within ISPs or carriers.

With the high growth of users getting on line, RAS concentrators may well be the critical success factor for vendors, as ISPs invest in cost effective and scalable RAS products, according to IDC.

On the other hand, sales in the low-end asynchronous area has also shown steady growth. Principal users for fixed-port remote access are departmental sites and medium-sized companies, IDC said.

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