LantraServer presents more remote-access options

Large enterprises have multiple access routes and platforms to consider. Small
workgroup or departmental networks running Microsoft Windows NT or Unix present almost as
many choices.


The GCN Lab took a look at Stallion Technologies' LantraServer, a hardware-software
combination that relies on Windows NT Server's Remote Access Server (RAS) module.


The LantraServer's serial ports for networked devices act as if they were on the NT
network server, opening up options not possible with a typical remote-access server.


Stallion Technologies is so confident about ease of use that it promises to refund
money to resellers who can't get LantraServer up and working in five minutes.


It took a bit longer on the GCN Lab's test network, but that was mainly because of a
documentation mixup. Not knowing much about the product in advance, we studied the
documentation carefully.


The main manual dealt with the Stallion EasyServer II, the LantraServer's predecessor.
Only one page in the 14-page supplementary guide explained the LantraServer. After we
figured out which part of which document to read, setup was indeed easy.


The LantraServer was simply a small box with eight serial ports and one 10Base-T
interface.


After connecting the box to the network, we hooked it to the serial port of an NT
machine to set its configuration information.


Through the HyperTerminal program of Windows 95 and NT, we entered an IP address and
subnet mask for the LantraServer. Then we unhooked it from the computer, connected a modem
and cycled the power.


When we entered the LantraServer's new IP address as a uniform resource locator in a
browser, a detailed configuration menu appeared. We could have done the detailed port
setup through a Telnet session, but the World Wide Web interface was easier.


After the configuration steps described in the user manual were done, we moved to the
server portion.


Stallion's LantraServer provides virtual serial communications ports across a network
on the server side through NT's Control Panel. After you install the NT service, you're
prompted to set up virtual serial ports.


From these ports, modems attached to the LantraServer can dial either in or out. The
rest of the administration and management is done through NT's RAS module. Under NT RAS,
the LantraServer makes a framework for running the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol on a
virtual private network. It also supports dial-on-demand routing.


Security features include dial-back and passwords as well as the Password
Authentication Protocol and Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol.


The LantraServer is a simple, elegant remote-access method for workgroup and
departmental NT servers, leveraging the OS' capabilities. More complex remote-access
options have better scalability, but the LantraServer shows that small can be better.


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