Connecting 2 offices in different locations

Kevin Gibbs
Kevin Gibbs used Ask the Experts™
on
Hello experts!  I have read some articles on connecting remote offices, but most of them seem to be from the early 2000's .  I am sure the technology has changed and I just want to make sure I am using the best, most efficient way.

I have an office in Atlanta (HQ) and an office in VA (Remote).  I need these two offices to be connected as if they were in the same building.  Currently today, the users in the VA office just PPTP VPN to a Windows 2003 server in ATL and establish a VPN connection that way.  Not secure, unstable, slow, and not efficient.  Time to upgrade

Site Specifics
ATL

20 Users
10 MB Fiber connection.
Static IP
LINUX IPCOP Firewall
Windows 2008 Server running Exchange 2010 exclusively.
Windows SBS 2003 DC running  AD, VPN, Files.

VA
8 Users (and growing)
20 MB Comcast Business line
Linksys WRTN4000N
NO Static IP (But, I'm sure we could get one)

I'm in a nice little position of having a decent budget to work with.  So, I am willing to spend what it takes to make this happen.  The remote office is growing, so I am interested in a VERY SOLID solution.

However, on the flip side, if there is a simple and cheap way that makes these offices connect FAST and seamlessly, then I am open to any of those suggestions as well!

FASTEST connection possible between the 2 is whats most important!  Thanks guys!!

Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions Consulting

Commented:
What are the down/UP speeds as this will be the bottleneck.
two choices. One is to use the Internet you have but create one VPN tunnel between the two offices. This would be done at the router, not on individual computers.

Two is to get mlps or some other type of leased lines that connect your offices directly. This does not go over the Internet. You should check speeds and prices before you can make a decision.
Kevin GibbsIT Operations Manager

Author

Commented:
Thanks!  I probably will stick with using the Internet to connect.  I am just interested in suggestions on the hardware/software solutions to pull this off.  
Kevin,

    We have an Office in Canada, and another in Europe. In our case there is only 1 file server (in Canada), so opening files from Europe was EXTREMELY slow. I did a lot of research and tested 3 technologies to improve speed.

   I chose a product called SteelHead from Riverbed (http://www.riverbed.com/us/products/steelhead_appliance/index.php) which I think is exactly what you're looking for. In our every day use, File opening, copying, saving, etc, had sped up by 90% or more. Users in Europe feel like they are on the LAN in the Canadian Office. This product has also reduced our bandwidth by over 90%.

   I personally swear by this product. We installed it over 4 years ago and haven't heard "The connection is too slow" since. I have only good things to say about it. I attached the paper I wrote analyzing all the results of the 3 technologies. It's a bit dated now, but maybe you'll find it useful.

Al Test-Results.zip Test-Results.zip
Become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

This course teaches how to install and configure Windows Server 2012 R2.  It is the first step on your path to becoming a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).

Oops, attached my file twice.
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions Consulting

Commented:
Any number Of business grade routers have site to site VPN capabilities. I'd suggest starting at the sonicwall tz210 series unless you really want to jump into iOS and cisco gear.
Kevin GibbsIT Operations Manager

Author

Commented:
Wow, when someone feels that strongly about something, I have to look into it!  Is this a buy it once, set it and forget it, type of appliance, or are there ongoing fees...etc?

Commented:
If you already have IPCop at one side (HQ), you can consider having also IPCop at the other side (VA) and connect both with OpenVPN.

I wonder what you mean with Linksys WRTN4000N because Googling about that gives only results with WRT 400N.

At http://wiki.openwrt.org/inbox/linksys/wrt400n you will see how to upgrade a WRT 400N device to OpenWRT so that you can create a VPN with OpenVPN on it. On IPCop at the other side, it is also possible to install OpenVPN as an addon. This VPN implementation is very stable and resists also on low quality lines.

With your existing devices, you can implement a VPN with OpenVPN (Zerina). This solution is totally open source and free.
Kevin GibbsIT Operations Manager

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the info.  I did consider dropping another IPCOP box in VA.  However, I am very interested in trying out the Steelhead product that was mentioned by Ragnarok.  I will report back after Tuesday (having a webinar) and let you all know which path I will go down.  Thanks for all your help everyone!
Kevin GibbsIT Operations Manager

Author

Commented:
While there are numersous solutions that could be used toward this question, I chose to try the Riverbed products out.  They are fantastic!!  Thanks!

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial