Vicomsoft Internet Gateway 6.5
Company: Vicomsoft, Inc.
Estimated Price: $215.00 (5-user)
To keep pace with the explosive growth of the Internet, businesses and educational institutions have had to rapidly expand their technology services to meet the demand, yet not overspend their strict budgets. It hasn’t been easy for them. Besides the heavy investment in trained personnel, the tools these people require to tame the Internet are also quite expensive, and costly Internet sharing software, routers, firewall machines, and IP address ranges can set IT budgets back many thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t it be great if an internal TCP/IP network with a secure firewall and content filtering, NAT (Network Address Translation), and all the benefits of a DHCP server–all these things–could be found in just one sturdy software package?
Attention IT people everywhere: with Vicomsoft’s Internet Gateway 6.5, that dream is now a reality.
Internet Gateway 6.5 is Vicomsoft’s flagship product, and it’s aimed at businesses and educational institutions that not only want to share one Internet connection across their entire network, but also set up a firewall and keep restricted sites out of view via CyberNOT content filtering. Internet Gateway does all this, and at a price that will be very pleasing to technology budgets.
Behind the Magic
Internet Gateway uses a very simple method to allow more than one computer to share an Internet connection. You simply install Internet Gateway on ONE computer in your network, which is the one that has the connection to the Internet, be it by modem, ISDN, cable modem, or any other type of connection. That computer then acts as the router, or computer that routes all the other computers on the network through itself and onto the Internet. Only the router computer holds the real IP address, and all the other computers use internal IP addresses which can either be easily assigned by the network administrator or issued by Internet Gateway’s DHCP server. Operating in this way, the ISP thinks that just one computer is using the connection. If this seems confusing, take a look at the simple diagram below showing multiple computers sharing one Internet connection.
Installation of Internet Gateway is quick and efficient, and the auto-setup wizard will help you tailor Internet Gateway to your network’s specifications in seconds. Once auto-setup is done, it’s smooth-sailing. Internet Gateway is ready to go right out of the box, and fine-tuning its controls is necessary only if you want to limit access to certain protocols, hosts, set up remote access, or route multiple networks.
Internet Gateway is extremely customizable, and can be used in countless ways. However, since it includes content filtering controls which are aimed at more advanced networks such as those in businesses and educational institutions, I’ll give a few examples of how Internet Gateway can be applied.
Example #1: K-12 Educational Institution Network
Melissa is a computer consultant for a public high school. The high school has recently invested in a T-1 connection to the Internet, and upgraded 2 computer labs, each with 30 computers. The school’s library also has 15 machines in it. All of these machines need access to the Internet. However, since it is an academic environment, students need to be protected from the Internet’s dark side, and doing this manually can be a tough job. Additionally, the school wants to host its own website on a machine on site, and it can NOT be restricted by these controls. Internet Gateway is the perfect solution.
All Melissa needs to do is purchase two unique IP addresses from her ISP (Internet Service Provider). One IP address will be assigned to the router machine on which Internet Gateway is installed. The other IP address will be assigned to the machine dedicated to serving the school’s website. Since this machine will not be routed through the Internet Gateway machine, there won’t be a problem. Melissa will set up Internet Gateway’s DHCP server for all of the client machines. She will also activate CyberNOT content filtering, an extensive list of restricted Internet sites that’s updated weekly. With the easy setup of Internet Gateway, Melissa didn’t have to spend a lot of time deciphering a complex router; she just got something that worked and did everything she wanted to do.
Example #2: Small Business Network
Patricia, who runs her own business, purchases a 256k ISDN line for her office of 10 computers, which she has connected via Ethernet. She has one static IP address from her ISP, but doesn’t want to purchase 9 more for her other 9 computers. She also wants to make sure her employees aren’t accessing pornographic or violent sites while at work, so she decides to purchase Internet Gateway. Taking advantage of the DHCP server, she configures her network to share her fast ISDN line without purchasing multiple IP addresses. The same configuration would apply to locations with full T1 or fraction T1 connections, of course.
Example #3: Large Business with Multiple LAN’s
Zadlcom, a mail order catalog company, has two different networks in its headquarters, and they want both networks to share their expensive T1 line. Like Patricia, they also want to filter out the Internet’s dirty side. Zadlcom can easily interconnect their two different networks using the simple algorithm pictured in the diagram below:
This type of interconnection could also occur between 10/100 Base-T and 10 Base-2 coaxial networks, or even between Ethernet and LocalTalk networks. Now all the computers on both the networks can use the same Internet connection, again courtesy of Internet Gateway.
Internet Gateway has advanced options far and beyond the scenarios I described above. Internet Gateway comes with a built-in DHCP server, which makes client configuration for a large network very easy. It also comes with a WebCaching Server which stores and buffers web content automatically, thus improving performance and reducing the amount of precious bandwidth taken. Furthermore, it allows you to not only interconnect separate LANs (Local Area Networks) in the same building, but also WAN (Wide Area Networks) that could be anywhere in the world. An example of this is pictured below.
Internet Gateway even has a Remote Access Server built-in so you can easily dial into it for Internet access. If you have a constant connection to the Internet, like cable modem or T1 line users do, but you have a modem at home, this comes in very handy!
Internet Gateway 6.5 is available for both the Mac OS and Windows 95/98/NT from Vicomsoft’s website at http://www.vicomsoft.com, where you can choose from a variety of packages to suit your Internet needs. Prices range from $215.00 for 5 users to $695.00 for unlimited users. The software can also be purchased in standard packaging (as opposed to online download) for an additional price.
Internet Gateway for Macintosh requires a PowerPC or 68040 processor with Mac OS 7.5.3 or higher, 5MB of RAM, and 15MB of free hard disk space. If you want to take advantage of the WebCache server, Vicomsoft recommends you have at least 100MB of available hard disk space.
Internet Gateway is a wonderful product that can easily suit a variety of needs. Its Internet sharing is superb, and end user workstations don’t notice a performance hit, even on a slower connection. Best of all, its firewall is secure and its content filtering is topnotch, keeping the bad stuff from coming in, and in turn, making your network more secure and offering the peace-of-mind that many institutions long for.
Internet Gateway’s high-end features, such as content filtering, will most likely not benefit the typical home user, and home users should consider Vicomsoft’s less costly products, such as SoftRouter Plus or SurfDoubler. However, larger institutions with higher-speed connections and large numbers of computers will appreciate Internet Gateway’s superb control and easy learning curve. With its Internet Gateway 6.5, Vicomsoft has made available superior software that will really work for you, no matter how complex your needs. It’s fully deserving of our highest recommendation.
MacMice Rating: 5