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Tuesday, 12 January 2010 17:39

The best VPN for Windows is Linux

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The problem with corporate networks is they not only stop the bad guys coming in but also your users who want to work remotely, whether at home, at a client site or on the road. Here is where a VPN product comes in, and the simplest to deploy on Windows is a Linux virtual appliance called OpenVPN.

The matter of remote access is a perennial concern to network admins. You can make your network fully locked down so that it is invisible and impenetrable to the legions of bad guys out on the Internet, but the question will always arise, 'How do I log in from home?'

Virtual Private Network - or VPN - technology exists to solve this problem, allowing users to tunnel in to your corporate network across the Internet in a secure manner.

Yet, these aren't always straightforward to set up. VPN products come in all manner of configurations and pricepoints and invariably a degree of complexity to install in an existing infrastructure.

Or you could go the open source route. OpenVPN is an open source VPN product that uses the secure socket layer (SSL) as its means for communication.

This means it maintains security but utilises a protocol stack which requires a minimum of fuss on either the client or server end.

The server component, known as Access Server, is a Linux-based product. It can be easily installed on Red Hat or Ubuntu derivative distributions through the package management tools on those systems.

However, Windows admins really ought to give OpenVPN a look. True enough it is a Linux product but this does not matter. In a stroke of masterful thinking, the product is available as a pre-packaged virtual appliance.

This means that all the work in setting up a Linux server and installing and configuring the software has been done for you. You don't have to make the product fit onto an existing server, risking corrupting some other vital piece of infrastructure.

Instead, OpenVPN ships complete as a virtual hard drive in both VMWare and Windows VHD versions. The VHD file is suitable for use both with Virtual Server and Windows Server 2008's Hyper-V product.

Virtualisation products that make use of hypervisors - like Hyper-V - will use hardware support to make the virtual machine run as close to natively on the bare metal as possible.

This means deploying OpenVPN is a snap; download the virtual appliance, run it as a virtual machine and configure via a simple web-based user interface. Remote users then just need a copy of the OpenVPN client and they're in.

OpenVPN is both free and open source, and if you need support perpetual licensing is available at the bargain price of $US 5.00 per concurrent connection.

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Now’s the Time for 400G Migration

The optical fibre community is anxiously awaiting the benefits that 400G capacity per wavelength will bring to existing and future fibre optic networks.

Nearly every business wants to leverage the latest in digital offerings to remain competitive in their respective markets and to provide support for fast and ever-increasing demands for data capacity. 400G is the answer.

Initial challenges are associated with supporting such project and upgrades to fulfil the promise of higher-capacity transport.

The foundation of optical networking infrastructure includes coherent optical transceivers and digital signal processing (DSP), mux/demux, ROADM, and optical amplifiers, all of which must be able to support 400G capacity.

With today’s proprietary power-hungry and high cost transceivers and DSP, how is migration to 400G networks going to be a viable option?

PacketLight's next-generation standardised solutions may be the answer. Click below to read the full article.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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