Vicomsoft Internet Gateway 6.7
Company: Vicomsoft, Inc.
Estimated Price: $99.00-$499.00
(Depending on Package)
Just a year ago, internet sharing software and hardware solutions were just making their break onto the scene. Today, however, they are becoming commonplace in today’s SOHO and IS/IT settings. Would you believe I laughed in the face of my cable company when they wanted me to purchase additional IP addresses for my other computers? Well, I did! Long time readers of My Mac will know that I have been using Vicomsoft’s Internet Gateway for almost 2 years now. Before, I was using it for my dial-up ISP connection, and now, I have moved to a cable modem, and I continue to use it. It is an extremely versatile product that gives you a secure firewall and content filtering, NAT (network address translation), a RapidCache server, and all the benefits of a DHCP server all in one software package.
Internet Gateway 6.7 is Vicomsoft’s flagship product that can be purchased in a number of different configurations. With this versatility, it can be a very affordable solution for all kinds of configurations, including SOHO, IS/IT, small businesses, and even large corporations. What’s more, the added benefit of a firewall and content filtering keep the bad from getting in, and the good from getting out, whichever way you want it.
Behind the Magic
Internet Gateway uses a very simple method to allow more than one of your computers 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, DSL, T1, or any other type of connection. That computer acts as the router, or computer that routes all the other computers on the network through itself and on to the internet. Only the router computer holds the real IP address. All the other computers use internal IP addresses, which can simply be made up by the network administrator, or issued by Internet Gateway’s DHCP server. Then, the ISP only thinks that 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 it’s controls is only necessary if you need to limit access to certain protocols, hosts, set up remote access, or route multiple networks.
Internet Gateway is indeed extremely customizable, and can be used in countless ways. To give you a feel for this, I will give you a few examples of how versatile Internet Gateway is.
Example #1: Small Home Network
Bob owns a Power Macintosh 6100 with an external modem. He has always been content with it, but couldn’t resist buying a new ruby iMac. Since then, he’s been cruising the internet at 56k speeds, and the rest of his family has used the 6100 for other purposes. Now, however, they are discovering how much fun the internet can be, and it’s been a fight over who gets to use the internet. So, Bob networks his two computers by ethernet, and buys Internet Gateway. He designates his iMac as the router machine, and his 6100 as one of the client machines. He sets up two ports in the Internet Gateway application, one for the modem, and one for Ethernet. Since his ISP obtains the IP address dynamically, he sets the modem port to obtain the address dynamically, and lets the very helpful Internet Gateway setup wizard designate an IP address for the ethernet port.
Then, he goes to his 6100’s TCP/IP control panel, sets it to Ethernet, and elects to manually configure the IP address. He finishes the simple TCP/IP configuration on the 6100, goes back to his iMac, tells Internet Gateway to connect via the modem port, and what do you know, he’s on the internet. Internet Gateway requires very little processor time/resources, so it can easily run in the background while Bob uses Netscape to visit his favorite web sites. In the meantime, his kids are on the 6100 chatting on AOL Instant Messenger at the same time. Best of all, Bob was up and running in less than 10 minutes because the Internet Gateway auto setup application did the majority of the work for him.
Example #2: Mixed Advanced Home Network
Daniel, an advanced user, has a cable modem connected to his 7600 via ethernet. He also has an old 6100 lying in his basement, and has never bothered to network the two together. His wife now needs a windows computer to work on, so he goes and buys a cheap windows box with a NIC (Network Interface Card). He resurrects his old 6100, buys a 5-port ethernet hub, and connects his three machines to ports 1, 2, and 3 of the hub. He then plugs his cable modem into the uplink port on the hub. He sets up his 6100 as the exclusive router machine, and assigns his remaining two computers IP addresses to correspond with his router machine. Daniel has a static IP address (one that never changes) with is ISP, so he configures the cable modem port to use this static address.
Since Internet Gateway acts as a firewall in addition to allowing computers to share an internet connection, Daniel can use any range of IP addresses he wants. As an added bonus, since both Macintosh and Windows can use TCP/IP protocols, having a windows computer on the network doesn’t matter. Now, Daniel shares his super fast cable modem connection between him and his wife, while his old 6100 is put to good use once again. It doesn’t matter that his router machine is plugged into the same hub as the other two computers, because only his router machine is looking for the cable modem that is plugged into the uplink port. His other machines look for the router machine, and forget that the cable modem is even there.
Example #3: 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 will host it’s own web site 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 campuses web site. 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, which is a list of restricted internet sites that is 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 #4: Small Business Network
Patricia, who runs her own business, purchases an 256k ISDN line for her office of 10 computers, connected via ethernet. She has one static IP address from her ISP, but does not 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 #4: SOHO Network with teamed connections
Richard is a very serious internet user, and one that demands a high speed internet connection. Unfortunately, he lives out in the boonies, were cable modems and other high speed options are not one. Fortunately, Richard has two phone lines, and has purchased Internet Gateway. He then sets up his computer with two 56k modems to use Internet Gateway’s connection teaming. Now, instead of getting 5.0k/sec throughput, Richard can get over 10k/sec. Even better, if Richard purchases another phone line and modem, he could squeeze another 5k/sec out of his total throughput, pushing his connection speed to well over 15k/sec.
Example #6: Large Business with Multiple LAN’s
Zadlcom, a mail order catalog has two different networks in its headquarters, and they want both networks to share their expensive T1 line. As above, they want to filter out the internet’s dirty side also. 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 local talk networks. Now, all the computers on both the networks use the same internet connection 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 comes with a RapidCache Server, which caches web content automatically improving performance and reducing the amount of precious bandwidth taken. Furthermore, it allows you to not only interconnect separate LAN’s (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!
The options continue, though. In addition to connection teaming mentioned above in example #5, Internet Gateway also offers a fallback server, which opens a second designated connection if your primary connection should fail. This way, institutions that rely on internet access do not have to worry about losing their internet connection because of ISP technical difficulties. Furthermore, Internet Gateway’s new Remote Control application offers a number of easy to use features for both users and administrators to monitor the status of their server. And the full-blown remote administration console is a great solution for the power administrator.
Internet Gateway 6.7 is available for both Mac OS and Windows 95/98/NT4 SP3/2000/Me from Vicomsoft’s web site at http://www.vicomsoft.com in a variety of packages to suit your internet needs. Prices range from $99.00 for the basics to $499.00 for all the added benefits of the Enterprise suite.
Internet Gateway for Macintosh requires a PowerPC processor with Mac OS 7.6.1 or higher, at least 6.5MB of free RAM (I recommend around 10-20), and 15MB of free hard disk space. If you want to take advantage of the RapidCache server, Vicomsoft recommends you have at least 100MB of available hard disk space.
Vicomsoft’s long-standing commitment to the Macintosh is sure to earn them bonus points in reviews such as this, but I respect their decision to also develop and maintain a Windows version, making the suite truly cross-platform. Internet Gateway is one of the most versatile products available today in any field, offering loads of options for today’s hungry SOHO, professional, and educational users. It’s modular version is a great innovation for users who only need specific features, while it’s well packaged and higher priced professional versions are sure to satisfy IS/IT technicians near and far.
Internet Gateway’s home network options should not be overlooked, however. For users who have another computer laying around, it’s a great alternative to purchasing additional IP addresses to serve multiple computers. And though the price of broadband routers continues to fall, Internet Gateway still can’t be matched in areas of connection teaming, fallback serving, and ease of use: three areas that are vital to many of today’s home and office networks who can’t afford high-speed dedicated lines.
The bottom line is that there are a multitude of options available today for performing Network Address Translation (NAT) and it’s related features. However, if you want NAT with all the bells and whistles, in a price to performance ratio that is unmatched, Internet Gateway should be on your list to consider. It’s a well-rounded product truly worthy of MyMac.com’s highest recommendation.
MacMice Rating: 5