AEP Systems to tackle VPN market


19 Mar 2003

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Bray-based e-security hardware company AEP Systems says it intends to capture a large slice of the potential US$986m VPN (virtual private network) gateway market.

The company, described as a leader in cryptographic acceleration technologies, last year acquired the hardware division of Baltimore Technologies for €6.3m. It says that its new SureWare A-gate system, a secure socket layer (SSL) remote access system for companies with VPNs, could save corporations and governments up to 40pc in terms of reduced capital costs and 50pc cost reductions in ongoing maintenance.

Quoting research by Infonetics Research, AEP’s chief executive Pat Donnellan told siliconrepublic.com that the market for gateway technologies will grow to US$986m by 2005, up from the present market worth US$200m.

Later this month, AEP Systems will establish a new office in Frankfurt, Germany, and later in Vancouver, Canada, on top of existing offices in Boston, Washington, Hong Kong, Palo Alto and London.

Last year, the company acquired Baltimore’s hardware division and stripped down its core security business. The acquisition gave AEP, which started up in 1999, a 15pc share of the global e-security hardware business. In acquiring Baltimore’s hardware division, AEP also acquired major customers such as MasterCard, the European Commission, various departments of the UK government and Microsoft.

According to Donnellan, AEP’s core technology focuses on speeding up e-commerce transactions on servers, maximising server performance to being capable of processing some 100,000 transactions per second. Approximately 20pc of all e-commerce transactions are abandoned at the last minute due to slow processing on e-commerce servers.

However, the real action, he insists is on the burgeoning field of e-security: “Despite a broader softness in the technology market, there is a huge focus on it across the world and budgets for e-security have not been reduced. Major corporations and governments are looking at SSL and VPN security and products like our SureWare A-gate to help them to secure their businesses and at the same time reduce operating and maintenance costs. In terms of e-security, we are riding the crest of a growth wave.”

Donnellan added that this year AEP Systems is likely to break even, with projected revenues of between €10m and €15m.

Last year, the company raised €14.5m in venture capital investment from B-Business Partners. The other investors in the round included ACT Venture Capital, Enterprise Ireland, AIB Equity and existing AEP shareholders. Existing shareholders in AEP include Intel Communications Fund, Island Capital, Mentor Capital and private investors. The funding was arranged by ING Barings and Merrion Corporate Finance.

By John Kennedy