WallCooler VPN: Easy and affordable VPN Access

When I first started out at ERE, we were running Citrix MetaFrame for a 45-person operation. Out of the 45 users, 10 were using MetaFrame to work from remote locations or at home. Of these 10 users, perhaps 4-5 were religious about remote connectivity.

Yet we spent money on having a 20-user connection license for Citrix, 20 user CAL's for Terminal Services, not to mention the expense of a Server, Windows Server Operating System and money spent to have someone come and set this all up. I didn't know Citrix then and this implementation is actually a big reason for my comments on consultants in my earlier post Step up or Back Up.

It seemed at the time and still today a shame to put money into a something we were just not ready for completely. Although it was cool to run all this technology and to become quite proficient in Citrix (we'll save that story for another day). Eventually we became a 125-person organization, with three locations and a mobile workforce that had us connecting 40-50 users remotely each day. We ran Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 and eventually we moved to a Cisco VPN. VPN or Citrix, we'll save that argument for another post. Through all the upgrading and learning from MetaFrame 1.8 up to the Cisco VPN solution, it would have been great to have something that was more cost effective.

I recently discovered a product call WallCooler VPN. The product comes in three flavors:

Standard: This provides Remote Desktop Connection, Access files from remote system within your local applications. Or open File shares on the remote computer.

Professional: Provides all the features of a full VPN solution. Including the ability to map drives, print remotely and access network shares.

Enterprise: Easily installs as a service with minimum configuration. Configure stand-alone or multi-site VPN's, supports up to 50 users.

The product is simply to install and setup, create a free user account and launch the software or service. The system automatically finds the systems and connection is a click away. Security is not a concern as WallCooler VPN uses dual SSL security encryption.

Standard version is free and unlimited in access to a remote machine. The Professional version allows 1 user up to three connections and starts at a price of $15.95 a month. The Enterprise edition starts at 5 users and hosts a maximum of 50 users with 10 simultaneous connections. The price starts at $29.95 a month (for 5 users). Both offers have a 20% discount if sign on for a year.

The prices are a fraction of what you would pay for a VPN solution this good and you would need to configure and manage the entire solution in-house. While I'll admit I love the easy administration, it also makes me a bit queasy. I am a bit of a control freak with my network and I hate to turn over anything to an outside source. However, for an SMB with limited financial resources here is an affordable or perhaps even free VPN solution depending on your needs. For a 1 or 2 person IT shops that do not need anything except an easy way to remotely administrate a system. Alternatively, perhaps for a large organization that does not have enough of a need to spend the money on a full VPN solution, since only a handful of people would use the remote capabilities. Here's a simply affordable and easy to install and manage tool to make your world A Better Window World.

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