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Wireless networking, VPN and remote access

In times past, networking on the Mac simply meant running a localtalk cable between two computers and switching on file sharing. It really was that easy. However with the necessity to integrate Macs and PCs on the same network, share resources via email, ftp, file sharing, web, ISDN, ADSL and possibly with satellite workers who need to be able to securely dial into your network, it’s got a bit more complex. Even the introduction of OS X has made the simple plug and play Appletalk problematic. You see Appleshare now wants to do everything via TCP/IP and this can cause trouble on your older computers.

What do you want to do?

Sweet Apple has installed Windows NT/2000 Services for Macintosh to enables cross-platform file sharing, used PCMacLAN to do the same thing at lower cost. We’ve integrated Macs into corporate networks using Outlook and Microsoft Exchange server, got a Mac Lotus Notes client talking to Notes servers halfway across the world. We set up 4-Sight ISDN Manager and Transmission server using ISDN cards, and now also using the internet via ADSL, SDSL, Fibre and other always-on technologies. Want to get your entire network up on the internet using ADSL sharing the one connection? No problem. How about using that same ADSL to enable your workers to access the file server inside your network securely? Or connecting to your email server whilst out on the road? How about linking into your Filemaker database whilst at home or away form the office? To really add to security we can use VPN tunnels to encrypt all data between your office network and the remote site.

Be secure

Of course all that involves opening up your internal network to potential security threats. So you want to make sure you get your Firewall or server configured correctly. We install routers that we can remotely manage, so you don’t have to worry about it. We can if required configure the network so that all, or just a specific machine on your internal network can be remotely controlled or viewed using Windows Remote Desktop, VNC, Timbuktu or Apple Remote Desktop. Why might you want to do this? How about you are collaborating on designing a document with a client or partner. They can, at your discretion, connect to your computer, and either view what you are doing on screen, or even remote control your Mac to make the alterations they suggest. Or we can run system checks or routinue maintanance on your server when the office is closed for the evening.

Buy the hardware:

All this is pretty pointless if you don’t have the necessary hardware. So I can, and do install networks. I buy the switchers, routers, wireless base stations, bridges, print servers, cut the cables to length, even fit cable trunking and network sockets. If you want to move away from fixed cable, you can add wireless nodes, either using Apple Airport base stations and Airport cards, or via 3rd part manufacturers like Belkin, Buffalo, Netgear, D-Link, etc. Often they’re cheaper and have improved range and reception.

Wireless security

The most critical part of the wireless equation is security. Make sure that your wireless network is secured against outside attack via WPA and or MAC range restriction. Too many people forget they are basically broadcasting their network data in all directions for anybody to hack into. So we’ll get that locked down nice and tight.

Any questions?

Give Sweet Apple a ring!


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