Linux Phone and VPN Offerings Rule N+I

It's our PBX! It's our Ethernet switch! It had better not go down!

If you connect all your computers, fax machines, conventional phones and IP phones to one box, it had better be running Linux. Avaya's new Integrated Stackable Telephony Solution, introduced at Networld+Interop in Las Vegas this week, supports all these plus software features, including "advanced call distribution" and Customer Relationship Management for call centers. Pricing for a 100-user system is about $100,000.

Avaya's high-end PBXes already run Linux and support up to 36,000 conventional phones and 12,000 IP phones. Avaya is using Pentium III processors and the Reiser filesystem, said Avaya's Cheryl Tomlinson.

Is it time to start a dial-up ISP? Daniel Dalarossa, CEO of Cyclades, says, "I think it's going to happen." With many people out of range of DSL or cable modem service, prices for those so-called broadband services beyond most people's budgets and existing ISPs consolidated into big indifferent companies, maybe it's time for Linux Journal readers to call the phone company, get a bunch of phone numbers in the form of a channelized T1 line and go into the old-fashioned dial-up ISP business.

Dalarossa is putting his blue boxes where his mouth is, introducing the new NL4000 Remote Access Server, which supports up to four T1/E1 interfaces and 128 modems. It's $16,090 fully loaded.

Cyclades is also making five TS100 Secure Device Servers available to embedded free-software development projects that have several people who all need to get to the serial port of one device. No more waiting to get a hold of the prototype hardware, just ssh to the Cyclades box and have at it. Send your contact info, your project name and description, and the reason why you all need to get to the same serial port to Helaine de Tomasi. Thank you, Cyclades.

Linux VPN appliances also made a big hit at N+I. WatchGuard is introducing the hardware-accelerated Firebox V80 that, according to the company, supports 600 Mbps firewall throughput, 300 Mbps 3DES VPN performance and up to 20,000 IPSec VPN tunnels. Administrators can configure WatchGuard appliances with a Java applet hosted on the appliance itself, so there's no need to install separate management software.

Meanwhile, Check Point Software is joining the trend of application-specific Linux distributions, with a "Secure Platform Media Pack" that installs Check Point's firewall and/or VPN software along with the minimal Linux needed to support it. Check Point claims "nearly 1Gbps VPN throughput" on an ordinary dual Pentium 4 Xeon system running Linux.

Don Marti is technical editor of Linux Journal.

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