Aventail has launched a new version of its SSL VPN software with the claim that it smoothes out some of the rough edges that have afflicted the technology to date.

Version 8.0 of the now "smart" Secure Access Policy (ASAP) software has now been upgraded in terms of policy and device management and end user access, and will be made available later this month as a free upgrade.

Sales of SSL remote access servers have boomed in the last couple of years, but nobody has yet got around to simplifying some of the technology’s deeper processes. User management can be time consuming and complex as policies need to be configured using multiple sets of rules and the end user experience usually requires several steps before resources can be accessed

ASAP should offer a number of benefits. For users, "Smart Access" will mean they can access resources transparently by clicking on a web link. Gone will be the need to open a separate window that uses a different GUI and wait for a plug-in applet to download. User access will now be set automatically depending on the type and environment of the device being used for access.

For administrators, the "Unified Policy" element of the system is object-based, structured on defining resources and user groups in a more logical and hierarchical way. The company claims this will reduce the number of rules admin staff are required to create to manage SSL VPN access.

It will also avoid some of the maddening conflicts that made if difficult for staff who were members of more than one department to exist in two SSL policy groups at once.

The eagerness to ease administration is being driven by market pressures, admitted Chris Witeck, a senior product tester at Aventail. "As you move into the mid-size market, admin time becomes infrequent." All SSL VPN vendors would need to look at this issue or risk this lucrative market stalling.