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Using Win2k for large IPsec deployment

Our company, based in Japan, is involved with setting up a VPN in a Windows 2k Advanced Server environment with L2TP over IPsec for a local government's department of education in Japan. We are concerned about the stability of the NLB service on our cluster network.

But mainly, we want to ask if there is such a system up and running in the academic or corporate world. Our VPN is comprised of 3 clusters, all running Win2k Advanced Server, with 200 clients connected. At the moment we are still in the project phase. We are concerned about the stability of the NLB service on our network. Another worry is the possibility of memory stack overflow system lock-up problems, as the network will be running 24hrs, 365days... I have been employed to help the company ask these questions, because in Japan VPN knowledge and working systems are almost nonexistent. Could you help?
At this point, I've seen lots of smaller companies use Win2k successfully, but I don't have any experience with companies using Win2k servers for large IPsec VPN deployment.

Depending on your application, a hardware-based IPsec product from a company like Nortel or Cisco may provide a more cost effective and reliable solution. A single box can handle thousands of clients without the need for separate load balancers, etc.

On the other hand, you may find that an SSL-based VPN is better suited to your application. These have come a long way in the past year and provide client-less remote access -- they simply use a web browser as the client. The benefit here is that you don't need to administer a bunch of individual PC clients. SSL-remote is not quite as robust as IPsec in that it doesn't support all IP applications, but the better solutions support a broad set of applications including e-mail, file sharing and web-based services.

Hope this helps,
Mark

This was last published in June 2002

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