best practice recommendation - how to support multiple remote customers via VPN when each customer requires different VPN Client software

Hi,

We provide IT support for a small company (<30 users) that writes software (ERP) and does support on this application.

They have many >25 clients that they need to remotely support.

Each client has their own vpn infrastructure, and therefore require installation of VPN software to access their corporate LANs to provide remote support.

After installing a recent VPN client some of their developers PCs are unstable.

I can imagine that installing 4 or 5 vpn packages on a PC can cause conflicts and feel that there must be a better way to provide a stable environment for remote support.

I would like a recommendation on approaches to setup a support infrastructure where anyone in the support staff would be able to easily connect to any of the customers to provide support safely and securely.

Thanks in advance,

Gilbert.
juniorsaAsked:
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goss34Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Hi Gilbert,

Im not sure if i am understanding what your trying to achieve but it sounds like you could do with a multiple PC environment where each of the say for example 5 PC's has one of the VPN connections then the support users would remote onto say PC1 that can start the Cisco VPN to the end destination and PC2 would start a Network Connect session to the different end destination.

I have used this design before in a VMWare environment and it does work well. Obviously if you have 20 companies using the Cisco VPN client you still only need the 1 PC as the client can support multiple connections (although not simultaneously) the only downside is you may need more than one PC if multiple clients need support at the same time.

Hopefully this can point you in the right direction or if im not following what your trying to achieve let me know and i will have a re-think.

Thanks
Dan
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
You cannot install 4 or 5 VPN clients on the same machine. Some VPN clients can co-exist with others, but many cannot due to conflicts with the IPSec service. Using virtual machines is an ideal solution as suggested by goss34.

You may also find some of the VPN clients have different names but are actually the same and can share connections. The most common overlap is Netgear ProSafe, Watchguard MUVPN, and I believe Netscreen, which are all actually SafeNet clients and can be used for connecting to any of those machines.

Another option is if all the machines to which you wish to connect have Internet access you can subscribe to a 3rd part management service. GoToAssist by Citrix is by far my favorite. It allows many options not available by other services. The first connection has to be initiated by the remote user. After that you can continue in this manor or install it as a service to allow you access at any time. It uses very strong encryption as well, for security purposes. You may wish to read a blog write up on the the service I wrote a while back; "Remote Support Made Easy":
http://msmvps.com/blogs/robwill/archive/2008/05/11/remote-support-made-easy.aspx
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nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.Commented:
My suggestion is for you to setup a VPN router such as smoothwall and from here you can create multiple VPN tunnels for all the sites you need.

Check out the free version where all you need is a pc with 1gb ram and a p3 processor.

http://www.smoothwall.org
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raj27962Commented:
easiest way is to virtualise the vpn clients, that way you can have all 5 on a machine and they will not conflict with each other, there are a lot of solutions however if your unfamiliar with app/service virtualisation then check out vmwares thinapp which has a free download at :
http://www.vmware.com/products/thinapp/ 
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raj27962Commented:
the free download is for a trial version thats functional for a limited time - after that when your happy with the results you'll need to purchase licenses
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nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.Commented:
Also, there is a VMWare appliance for the smoothwall http://smoothwall.org/get/vmware.php
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