The challenge in allowing employees to work at home lies in providing access to the same information services available in the office. Addressing this problem, companies such as Linksys Group and WatchGuard Technologies have created all-in-one hardware boxes - respectively EtherFast 8-Port Cable/DSL Router and WatchGuard SOHOtc - that can convert a single broadband connection into an extension of your corporate LAN.
These devices serve triple duty as firewalls, network address translation (NAT) routers and switches. Further, each offers users the ability to create VPN tunnels using IPsec. The SOHOtc received a score of four stars; key features and a lower price secured the Linksys device a score of five stars.
Both devices were a cinch to install, requiring only a modest understanding of networking.
They are also quite flexible. Out of the box, each will create a secure network, and specific ports can be opened up for virtually every service. Most important, each can be configured remotely, which is vital for ensuring the remote network remains alive and secure.
Linksys pulls ahead with better organised configuration screens. SOHOtc beats the Linksys offering in a few security features, such as the capability of blocking discrete protocols and services.
Although we placed the Linksys device slightly ahead of the SOHOtc, no matter which you choose, you can have your employees work where they'd like without compromising security.
The Bottom Line
WatchGuard SOHOtc - 4 stars
Busin-ess Case: Used with a WatchGuard Firebox, the SOHOtc provides a compelling solution for distributing your corporate LAN.
Techn-ology Case: Easy to use and set up, the SOHOtc emphasises security and creates a stable, safe LAN for remote users, requiring minimal intervention from headquarters.
Pros:-l Easy installationl Strong security featuresl VPN via IPsecCons-:l Relatively expensivel Limited network speedl Limited system supportPlatfo-rms: Those supporting Ethernet.
Price-: $US599. More information available from the company Web site.www.watchguard.comEtherFast 8-Port Cable/DSL Router - 5 starsBusin-ess Case: The device does an excellent job of giving a company all it needs to set up a remote office extension of the corporate LAN, all at one-third the price of the SOHOtc.
Techn-ology Case: Easy to set up, the device can be configured remotely, making it a cinch to deploy and run.
Pros:-l Easy installationl Strong remote configurationl 100Mbps LAN speedl VPN via IPsecl Support for 253 systemsCons-:l None Platfo-rms: Platforms supporting Ethernet.
Price-: $US230. More information available from the company Web site.www.linksyscom