Core Competence, Inc. Internet @ppliance Industry Report:
A Guide to Technology,
Products, and Deployment
David Strom, Inc.

Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router

Remote Access router provides very-high speed digital access to corporate networks or the Internet using Digital Subscriber Line technology.

Price:
Efficient Networks™ 2200-18 SDSL Router
(model tested, LAN-to-LAN compatible)
Efficient Networks™ 2200-12 SDSL Router
(Diamond Lane DSLAM compatible)
Efficient Networks™ 2200-14 SDSL Router
(Interspeed DSLAM compatible)
Efficient Networks™ 2200-16 SDSL Router
(Copper Mountain DSLAM compatible)
All models have suggested list price $550.

Contact:
Efficient Networks
4849 Alpha Road
Dallas, TX 75244
Phone: (972) 852-1000
Fax: (972) 852-1001
Web: www.efficient.com

Reviewed:
September 1998

Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router

The Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router provides an early glimpse at high-speed digital access we all hope lies in our future. This appliance provides very-high speed access for small business Internet, branch office, and high-end residential access using emerging Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology. Digital Subscriber Line technology transfers data over your existing copper phone lines at up to ten times faster than analog modems or ISDN. The really nice feature of DSL is that it is always-on, dedicated Internet access. No dialing in or out. You're always-connected, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The good news is that DSL service offers the same kind of full-time, online service large corporations have, at a fraction of the cost. The catch is that your office or residence must lie within serving distance of a provider that uses compatible DSL access equipment, typically located in a telephone company's central office. We believe service providers will offer some form of DSL in most metropolitan areas within the next 12-18 months. The Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router is one of the first remote access products to meet the needs of this new market.

What's inside?

The 2200 can be used as an SDSL router and/or bridge, and has most of the same features found in analog modems and ISDN remote access routers. It supports IP with static or dynamic routing, Novell IPX, all the most common bridging protocols, and packet filtering firewall features for both IP routing and bridging. The 2200 comes with four built-in Ethernet 10-BaseT ports, and can support up to eight individual wide-area network connections or virtual circuits.

Setting up the Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router The initial configuration process for the Efficient Networks 2200 SDSL Router makes it about as easy to manage as most ISDN routers were before the fine-tuning of wizards. To set up a typical four PC network, you first attach your computers to the Ethernet ports on the back of the Efficient Networks 2200 SDSL Router. Next, you reconfigure your PCs to dynamically obtain their IP addresses from the router. You restart all your PCs and the 2200, and then run the Windows-based configuration application, shown below. (Efficient Networks will offer browser-based management in the future to eliminate platform dependencies.) Using the configuration application, specify a login ID, password, select IP routing or bridging, and identify the encapsulation method or link protocol supported by your network service provider. If required by your service provider or network administrator, you may have to enter additional IP addressing and authentication parameters for Internet access.

In our scenario, we selected IP routing and PPP link protocol, so we only needed to enter Internet Account information. In this configuration, our Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL router automatically assigns IP addresses to PCs on our local Ethernet. Network Address Translation (NAT) allows these PCs to concurrently share a single public IP address. Efficient Networks refers to this feature as "masquerading". Click here to view a larger image
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The Configuration Manager has a series of menus for making changes to its system settings, including passwords, IP addresses, and other network settings. You can configure protocol, routing options and management options from here as well.

Once you've configured the router, you can monitor the health and status of your SDSL connection using the WAN Port Monitor utility. This convenient tool shows whether DSL service is working, and displays traffic rates and activity on your DSL connection. It also reports errors using text messages.

Port & Traffic Monitor

Addressing and Firewall Features

The 2200 can automatically assign addresses to PCs attached to the local Ethernet LAN using the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) or the older Boot Protocol (BootP). This feature simplifies network configuration for non-technical PC users, and allows network administrators to centrally administer IP network configuration in large organizations. Further control over addressing features can be obtained if needed by connecting to the router via Telnet and using various command line parameters. The QuickStart for DSL software assigns a private range of IP addresses to the router by default: Efficient Networks refers to this as masquerading. The more traditional or Classic NAT application is also available. When you choose this latter option, the 2200 performs host IP remapping: one public IP address is translated into exactly one private address (i.e., the public address is not shared). Use this form of NAT, for example, when you want to allow access to certain PCs on your LAN but do not wish to renumber every host with a public IP address. You can also use your own public or private addresses and disable NAT via one of many methods: during QuickStart, from the Configuration Manager, through scripts, or from the command line interface.

When IP routing is enabled, the Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router automatically provides default packet filters to prevent IP spoofing (an attack by an outsider who ses one of your inside addresses as his own source address in an effort to gain access to PCs on your LAN). When either form of address translation is used, the router effectively intercepts and discards incoming requests to all host services on the LAN. Access to services on the LAN such as email can be specifically allowed while still protecting other private LAN services. When bridging is enabled, the 2200 provides more extensive packet filtering capabilities based on pattern-matching. Using the command line interface, advanced users or network administrators can program the Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router to accept or deny packets based on addressing information, protocol, or data content. In the next release, Efficient Networks plans to expand IP filtering features and add firewall logging to identify whether and how often your filtering rules have been violated.

These features may be sufficient to satisfy the security needs for some users. Consumers with more stringent security needs, for example, small businesses and branch offices that want to run their own public web servers, should consider using a firewall appliance or Efficient Networks's planned firewall option to further protect their systems from attacks by intruders. In the future, corporate network administrators will be able additionally enhance security by having employees use the L2TP tunneling and encryption options available on the 2200. Or they may choose to integrate SDSL-connected LANs into an existing VPN solution by having end users run client software on their individual PCs when they communicate with servers at a corporate LAN.

Other notable features

The Efficient Networks 2200 series of routers can be managed via SNMP consoles. Enterprise configurations, IPX routing and bridging will require extra information, and you may need to use the Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router's command-line interface. These configurations require more knowledge of networking than we'd expect from a non-technical user, and neither the Quick Start for DSL nor the Configuration Manager are as helpful in the enterprise access scenarios as are the wizards for many of today's ISDN routers. This is what we'd expect for a service that's relatively new not only for end users but also for experienced network administrators.

DSL providers and enterprises are still tinkering to find the most appropriate and secure deployment scenarios for their organizations, and there are unfortunately too many "standard" ways to deploy ATM technology. This combination makes it more difficult to hide unfamiliar concepts like "encapsulation" from a novice user in a setup wizard. While the printed and on-line documentation provides thorough, detailed explanation for the experienced administrator, pamphlet-level overview supplements will be needed for the residential market. For the next year or so, we expect that service providers will preconfigure DSL access routers and bridges on behalf of their end users. The typical end user will simply connect cables and power up a "ready to use" box.

Final Word

The Efficient Networks™ 2200 SDSL Router provides very high speed Internet access for small and home businesses, branch offices, teleworkers, and residential power users. The choice of Symmetric DSL is especially attractive to consumers who require constant-on Internet presence, such as teleworking or hosting a public web server.


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