Remote access specialist Livingston Enterprises is taking a new stab at the Australian marketplace with the release of its PortMaster 3.0 access server.
While Livingston may not be a household name, the company does claim to have sold 700,000 dial-in ports into 2000 ISPs worldwide. The company also claims invention of the Radius security protocol, having since elected to give it away to the industry to make it a standard.
But what the company won't be giving away is its ComOS and ChoiceNet software, both key selling points for its new PortServers, which are distributed in Australia through Lidcam Technology.
Livingston's international marketing manager, Manuela Hoehn, says her company's mission is to provide customers with advanced internetworking solutions. She believes Livingston's dedication to the remote access market gives it an advantage over its larger, more diversified competitors. "We call ourselves the access security specialists, because unlike other companies which started in different markets, such as backbone routing, we started from the very outset as a remote access specialist."
Hoehn says that through talking to customers Livingston has identified four areas of concern - scalable management architecture, reliability, interoperability, migration and security.
To this end it has developed RAMP (Remote Access Management Platform), an architecture that addresses these concerns. This comprises Radius, for authentication, authorisation and accounting; ComOS for firewall filtering; and ChoiceNet for centralised distributed filter management.
Hoehn says ChoiceNet provides a powerful tool for ISPs to offer value-added services, through limiting access to Web sites. "It enables the ISP to offer accounts that are filtered," said Hoehn. "You can filter on protocols, or you can filter on specific site lists and IP addresses. So if you want to filter out and deny the Playboy.com server, you can.
"Every user can have their own filter," said Hoehn. "If you have client-based filtering technology, like Net Nanny, kids are clever and they can turn it off. If you keep it on the server, they can't turn it off."
Hoehn said ChoiceNet can also be used to block out push technology, such as PointCast, or to create dedicated games or Cu-SeeMe servers.
Hoehn says Livingston provides a migration path for users wishing to move to 56Kbit/sec technology. "You don't want to punish someone because they made a buying decision today, and then technology comes along and their gear is worthless," said Hoehn, adding that Livingston will upgrade PortMaster 3.0 modem cards for existing customers free of charge.
The PortMaster 3.0 features what Livingston calls True Digital DSP-based modem technology, which provides automatic self-configuration and eliminates the need for initialisation.
Another feature of the PortMaster is Multi-Chassis PPP, which can spread bandwidth demands over multiple units, with complete transparency for the end user.
Despite its record in the ISP marketplace worldwide, managing director of distributor Lidcam, Scott Lidgett, admits the company has so far failed to break into the top half-dozen local ISPs. "The first half-dozen have already bought Ascend," said Lidgett. "That's the hardest thing about it - Ascend were first to market, it's as simple as that."
But as the needs of ISPs become more specialised, Lidgett says Livingston is already winning business as it starts to swap out legacy equipment in favour of purely digital solutions.
Pricing on the PortMaster 3.0 is variable depending on the modem configuration, but Lidgett says an average price would be around the early to mid-$30,000 mark. "They're not a cheap box, but they are a cost-effective box by comparison with the alternatives," he said.
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