Connection Aggregation? Multiple Internet Access lines into a complex LAN

Hello, I work at a b-school in Mumbai, India. Due to our remote location (away from city) we get very poor bandwidth. In order to service user requirements, we have purchased several cable modem connections (from local cable Internet ISP) in addition to a couple of ISDN lines (128kbps each), a 256kbps wireless (RF) link to a nearby ISP and one leased line (256kbps). (None of these lines provide anything close to their rated speeds).

Right now, we are using selected incoming lines for selected subnets (eg: leased line for faculty subnet, cable modems for individual class rooms etc) though they all are part of a complex LAN and go through one of several gateway servers. Unfortunately, these lines go down often and everyday, some group of users loses their internet.

I am looking for an inexpensive way to join all these connections, so that i have a larger aggregate pool of bandwidth for ALL my users. Should one line get over-loaded or fail, another should be used.  Cheaper line (usage cost) should be maxed out first etc.

Short of exorbitant Cisco routers and the like, I am unable to find a solution that doesnt involve huge investments in hardware/software. Any suggestions will help 400 internet starved MBA students and their therapists (the faculty!)

Thanks, Nitin
NitinPutchaAsked:
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NitinPutchaAuthor Commented:
Some points I missed out:

- Everything is Microsoft. Clients are WinXP or Win2k. Servers are Win2k Pro or Win2k Server

- LAN has fixed IP and DHCP in different subnets
- Intranet File Servers are quite active, though no internal websites
- POP3 mail server (linux based POP3 bouncer) within LAN

Thanks
dmikneusCommented:
I have a similar situation. I've ordered "Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Internetworking Guide" in the hope of finding step-by-step directions to build a solution.

My plan is to use Windows 2000 Server as the router between my LAN and Internet connections. Win2000 Server would run OSPF routing protocol and NAT from the RRAS services in a configuration similar to the following:

Cable Modem           DSL
         |                        |
       NIC                    NIC
-----------------------------------
    W2KSrv: OSPF & NAT
-----------------------------------
                   NIC
                    |
-----------------------------------
            LAN Switch
------------------------------------
     |                      |    |     |
Client1 ...................ClientN

I'll keep you posted if this works out

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NitinPutchaAuthor Commented:
I came across a software solution at www.nat32.com that I will evaluate this week. It seems that my Win2000 server is having trouble managing multiple NICs and multiple internet connections. It happily ignores one or the other. Needs a rebuild maybe. Thanks for the input dmikneus. Look forward to your followup.

Nitin
dmikneusCommented:
Windows NT always had trouble with multiple NIC's from different vendors. Because of that, I now always use the exact same NIC & driver when installing multiple NIC's in a single machine -- I'm not sure if Win2000 server has the same problem as NT.

I'm still waiting for the Internetworking Guide to be delivered.
dmikneusCommented:
If you need to aggregate only 2 broadband connections, then the simplest solution is available at
www.xincom.com
They sell a series of router/firewall appliances starting at $180 U.S. which are high-quality and work great at load-balancing or failing over between 2 broadband connections (e.g. cable or DSL modems)
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