Netsilica EPN is a product from Netsilica that enables data transfers for intranet and extranet enterprise environments without requiring architectural changes to the network, without adding hardware and with minimal management overhead.Way back in the mists of time (2001 to be exact) we dissected FTP in\u00a0a series of columns.Now FTP is jolly good stuff, but in an enterprise environment it has a few drawbacks. FTP requires specific routing through firewalls and most FTP products require additional software and subsystems for encryption, authentication, scheduling and auditing. The bottom line is that it is hard to tightly integrate FTP with enterprise services. Thus Netsilica EPN was forged.Netsilica EPN \u00a0(Enterprise Private Network) is a product from Netsilica that enables data transfers for intranet and extranet enterprise environments without requiring architectural changes to the network, without adding hardware and with minimal management overhead.At its core is the Netsilica EPN server - which appears to be a modified Web server - which mediates secure HTTP (HTTPS) file transfers between "source clients" (computers that act as data stores) and end users using Web browsers or other source clients.EPN conducts client ID validation through add-on authentication modules. Current modules include support for Microsoft Active Directory Services (ADS), Microsoft NT domains,\u00a0RADIUS\u00a0and\u00a0Lightweight Directory Access Protocol \u00a0(LDAP)-compliant systems.The beauty of using browsers as endpoints for file up- or downloading is that all major browsers support HTTPS, no client installation is needed and end-user training is minimal. And because HTTPS is used, all transfers are secure. So, as long as HTTP\/HTTPS access is enabled across and\/or out of the network, no modifications are required to firewalls, proxy servers and routers.The source client software is a small program that lets you select which local drives on a computer are available for access through the EPN server (the source computer can be a mainframe, PC server or desktop machine).We found a bug in the source client application: You can't select a subdirectory marked as a Windows shared Web directory even if the subdirectory is on a local drive.Another minor issue is that if you select a subdirectory to be shared, you can't set it to be the effective root (in other words, it can't be aliased). Thus the entire path from the root of the drive down to the subdirectory to be shared is visible to clients even if the content in the other subdirectories in the path are not visible.Performance was good, and the server optionally can compress the data files on the fly to improve throughput for compressible content. And because of the closed and therefore controlled nature of the system, access control and auditing are easy.A great feature is the ability to integrate with Outlook or Notes. Then, when you use a browser to connect with the source client through the EPN server, there's a tab on the home page for Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes that takes you to a page that shows the facilities of the application.We tried to access an Outlook client and were impressed to be able to browse and modify the calendar and send and receive mail from across the country. But there are some minor limitations, including access to contact data because of the bandwidth impact, and Notes whiteboards are not supported.The system is supported through native code on Windows and Linux and through Java on Macintosh and anything else that supports Java.A typical EPN system with five twin-processor servers, 100 desktop source clients, ADS authentication and Outlook support would cost about $16,000 to $20,000 plus 20% annual maintenance (that's around $160 to $200 per user plus maintenance).There is more to this product that we haven't covered but the bottom line is that this is a killer enterprise solution.Gearhead scorecard\n\n\nOverall grade: \n\nA-\n\n\n\n\n\nProduct: Netsilica EPNNetsilica\nFunctionality: A\nElegance: B\nValue for money: A\nVendor Large-scale enthusiasm to firstname.lastname@example.org.