Funk Software's Steel-Belted Radius 2.1 is a great implementation of the RADIUS protocol to ease enterprise remote access. Despite the abundance of free Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) servers on the market, the features found in this product make it a logical choice. It significantly reduces implementation time, offers better manageability of heterogeneous remote access devices on the network, and lowers total cost of ownership by integrating your existing network security with remote-access security.
Both Microsoft and Novell are releasing their own RADIUS servers soon. Microsoft's implementation will be included in Windows NT 5.0, and the Novell solution will be included in the upcoming BorderManager 3.0 release, which I've tested in beta form. One notable difference between BorderManager's implementation and this product's is that BorderManager leverages NetWare Administrator for integrated management. By contrast, Steel-Belted Radius must be managed from its own console.
Nevertheless, there are compelling reasons to stick with Steel-Belted Radius. Key benefits include Security Dynamics support, attribute support for remote servers of multiple vendors (in addition to Microsoft or Novell), a SQL interface, and comma-delimited log files accounting output.
Version 2.1 of Steel-Belted Radius is available only on Windows NT and Sun Solaris platforms. A previous version, 1.5, is available for NetWare but is not as feature-rich.
Steel-Belted Radius offers tremendous ease of use. Using Version 2.1 for NT, I was able to implement a remote-access server for more than 100 users in just one day.
In addition, a key benefit to using Steel-Belted Radius is that it does not require network managers to create and maintain separate access lists for the network and remote-access servers. Remote-access authorisation can be administered by using existing users or groups. Adding, deleting, or modifying a user account for LAN access also affects that user's remote access. This makes network and remote-access management convenient for administrators, and users will appreciate not having to remember separate user names and passwords for LAN and remote access.
Another advantage to using the new NT or Solaris release is that these versions let you authenticate any remote user on the basis of information stored in a SQL or ODBC-compliant database, such as Oracle, Sybase, or Informix.
Access and use
Steel-Belted Radius can access and use the NT Domain security database, NetWare's Novell Directory Service or bindery service, or Unix's Network Information Services (NIS). It also supports token-based authentication systems.
As a security server, Steel-Belted Radius performs three basic functions: remote user authentication, authorisation and accounting. When a remote user attempts to connect to the remote-access server, that server queries the Steel-Belted Radius server for authentication. Steel-Belted Radius validates the login request for the remote-access server and grants the appropriate level of access to the user.
The Bottom Line
Steel-Belted Radius 2.1
This solid implementation of the RADIUS protocol offers better management of heterogeneous remote-access devices on the network.
Pros: Eliminates redundant authentication information; reduces management overhead; consolidates management of heterogeneous remote-access equipment.
Cons: Requires separate management console (no snap-in to existing OS management interface).
Platforms: Windows NT, Sun Solaris. (Version 1.5 supports NetWare.)Price: $7499 per server.
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