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VPN appliances for simple VPN remote access

I am doing an A level Business Studies project. The company is interested in starting up a VPN instead of their current network. There are 3 computers on Windows XP away from the main site and 6 computers on Windows 98, which are actually at the site. I was just writing to ask you how much it would cost to change the network to a VPN. Could you please include any new hardware or software needed and training costs in the price, as well as any possible maintenance charges. Thank You.
Regards,

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Daniel
Daniel,
If you want to set up a simple VPN remote access for the three computers that are away from the site, it shouldn't cost much at all. The least expensive way to go is a VPN appliance for the main site and VPN client software for each of the three remote computers.

VPN appliances are available from companies like SonicWall, WatchGuard and NetScreen. They should cost no more than $1000 to $2000 for what you need. A benefit of these appliances is that they also provide you a firewall to protect your main site.

To authenticate remote systems to the appliance, you can use shared secrets or simple user name/password approaches. This requires very little set up and training.

The only other thing you will need is a dedicated IP address for your appliance from your ISP. Many inexpensive ISP services provide addresses dynamically via DHCP. This won't work for VPN, since your remote systems won't know where to look to find the appliance if its address changes. So you may have to pay your ISP a little more money for a static/dedicated address.

This was first published in July 2002

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