Remote Access Concentrators Are Replacing RAS Servers

According to Dataquest Inc. (San Jose, Calif.,, remote access servers are being replaced in large corporations by remote access concentrators. In fact, the worldwide market for remote access concentrators is up 6.8 percent from the second quarter of 1997, and revenues reached $494.1 million.

Meanwhile, the remote access server market has declined nearly 38 percent in the second quarter of 1998, and Bay Networks Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif., was the lone top-tier vendor to post positive growth, with a 28.4 percent increase in remote access server revenue. "Remote access servers are being cannibalized by concentrators," says Ritu Saini, market research analyst for Dataquest’s remote LAN and Internet access worldwide program.

The difference between remote access servers and concentrators is essentially simple, albeit elusive. Dataquest defines a concentrator as being able to receive dial-in calls and channel them to a T1 line. Remote access servers, on the other hand, merely accept the call and connect it to a LAN. Thus, remote workers can access a faster connection with concentrators. Additionally, concentrators are more scalable, and better equipped to handle the remote access needs of large corporations.

Dataquest claims the impetus behind the growth of concentrators is increased Internet use. "Internet users are demanding more from the network, and the average user is becoming more intelligent," says Saini.

The demands Saini speaks of include booking reservations, banking transactions and general e-commerce transactions. "E-commerce is a level above simple Web browsing, and it demands more functionality than is realistic over a dial-up connection," Saini adds.

As users demand more from the network and the Internet, ISPs also need to increase their capabilities. Saini states that this is in progress: "ISPs are anticipating these changes and beefing up their networks with equipment that can offer the desired levels of service and reliability."

For these reasons, Dataquest expects the remote access concentrator market to grow 15 to 20 percent annually. Concentrators provide more functionality than plain old remote access servers, but even this dramatic growth of concentrators does not signify the death of remote access servers. "The sale of servers is going to decrease, but I don’t see it absolutely just going away, at least not in the near future," says Saini.

Instead, remote access servers will find a place in the small to midsize business market. "The need for RAS servers will remain because the Internet [provides the ability to] work remotely," says Saini. "With remote access of any hardware variety, you don’t have to be in the office to work there."