Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Completing the VPN

For the past couple of years our VPN has been somewhat of a work in progress, although it has been providing a useful service it has never been quite finished, one of those 95% projects. Well I am sure you will all be excited to learn that tomorrow it looks like we will finally be able to stand back and say that the network is one project that is 100% complete in every way (for now).

All sites and key personnel are connected, our co location facility is connected, we have finally finished putting all the head office connections onto the Draytek 3300V and we have the RADIUS server running for mobile workers. Added to this we have upgraded the head office switches to managed Gigabit switches and tomorrow we should be activating the load balancing system so that if our leased line goes off the ADSL line will try to pick up the pieces and vice versa.

One of the major improvements has been the recently discovered need to reverse all the connections so that now both the co location router and the head office router are in charge of the connections to the remote locations. Quite why this never occured to anyone before will remain a mystery but hey ho :o) Of course the big question was which way should the connection be configured to connect between Manchester and Head office now we have 2 very clever VPN brains at each end, well the odd coincidence is that you can set then up to dial each other! It is not immediately obvious whether this will cause them to get in a knot at some point but we can always toss a coin and switch off one link if it does.

The main visible improvement has been the state of our comms cabinet or spaghetti junction as it was known, when we have disposed of our old ADSL router and installed the super VPN pass through modem we should finally have a perfectly organised rack of kit with no dangly encoutrements for once. I will take a piccie tomorrow to illustrate but unfortunately I don't have a before picture to give the true contrast.

I watched an interesting webinar last week about steelhead WAN link optimisers from riverbed which can allow network applications to be run from the datacentre so maybe this could be the way forward for the network, phase 2 if you will. Just need to find a couple on ebay running at a bit of a discount as they are a bit expensive. Maybe terminal services will be a better bet but if anyone wants to bin a couple of steelheads do call :o)

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A view from the rack is the personal blog of an IT manager who works for a pub company - hence beer