Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Affordable IT: All-In-One Gateways

Call them Swiss Army knives for your remote sites. All-in-one gateways are becoming all the rage for broadband SOHO and branch locations as combination LAN and WAN interconnect appliances.

Smaller than bread boxes, AIOs act as hubs or switches that interconnect devices in a small office and route you to a WAN or the Internet. Most come with standard Ethernet 10/100Base-T ports and a wireless access point for sharing resources ranging from computers and PDAs to print servers and storage systems. And by routing traffic through your DSL or cable modem, they share the external connection with the devices on the LAN, using a DHCP server/client and NAT (network address translation). If your ISP requires authentication, you can use the AIOs' PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet) feature. They also support secure VPN connections and provide a packet-filtering firewall function.

But you get what you pay for with these devices, which cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000. High-end AIO appliances, such as EmergeCore Networks' IT-100, come with more advanced features such as e-mail, file and print sharing, and FTP and HTTP services. You can also buy add-on services with antivirus, content-filtering and traffic-shaping features. Although AIOs come with basic log files, not even the high-end AIOs include advanced diagnostics and management, so troubleshooting can be tricky.

The Young Guard

AIO appliances come in a board, chip or module form factor and use a variety of processors. Although Intel's licensed ARM technology is the most prevalent processor in AIOs, the vendor's newer Xscale processor is making headway (CyberGuard's products use it), as is Toshiba's TX3927 (which SonicWall uses in its appliance). Other processors are Motorola's ColdFire (found in CyberGuard's appliances) and Philips' TriMedia (in 2Wire's product line). Neither of these processors is an industry standard, however.

  • 1