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VIP Server

OVERVIEW:
The primary purpose of the VIP (Virtual Internet Proxy) Server is two fold:
  1. To allow network users safe access to the Internet.
  2. To allow network users access to local and internet e-mail.
The VIP Server integrates into an existing LAN (Local Area Network), allowing all designated Network users (running DOS, Windows 3.x, 9x, 2000, NT, MAC, Apple, Next, Linux, etc.) Internet and Email access. The VIP Server will operate on most Networks (Novell, NT, UNIX, Vines, mixed, etc), using any arkecture (Ethernet, pure IP, Token, ATM, mixed, etc). The VIP Server is an integrated combination of Hardware and Software.

ACCESS TO THE INTERNET:
There are a number of ways to allow Network users access to the Internet. The most common is to address the problem at each Workstation individually. This would require :

  1. A Modem installed on each Workstation
  2. A separate Telephone line for each Workstation
  3. An ISP (Internet Service Provider, ie Earthlink) account for each Workstation.
  4. Individually configurations for each user.

This is an expensive and inefficient solution which is difficult to administer and maintain. A far more efficient, cost effective, secure, and intelligent solution is to centralize the Internet Access as a resource shared among all Network users. Hence, the VIP Server. It allows all designated Network users Internet access through a single, centralized, secure resource.

The VIP Server turns a standard, single-user ISP (Internet Service Provider, i.e. Earthlink) account into a multi-user access point for Internet resources, all without having to pay the ISP a single penny more. As far as the ISP knows, the VIP Server looks just like a regular, single user computer accessing the Internet.

Since the VIP Server is an integrated Hardware and Software solution. It can easily be configured to access the Internet through a variety of configurations.

  • 56K Modem: Typical Performance is 4K/Sec.
  • ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network): Speeds of 56K, 64K, 112K, or 128K, depending on Service.
  • Cable Modem: Speeds up to 1.5M (1500K).
  • DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): Speeds up to 1.5M, depending on Service.
  • T-1/T-3/OC-3/OC-5: Speeds up to 100M (Very expensive!).
Which Hardware Configuration is best for you will depend on the following:
  • ISP: Some ISP's do not offer certain access methods, i.e. not all IPS's offer Cable Modems, DSL access is limited by your Physical Location, and AOL users have limited choices. When choosing a Hardware configuration, it is best to consult your current ISP or speak with other vendors to compare Availability, Speed, and Costs.
  • Simultaneous Users: The VIP Server makes a Centralized resource of the Internet Access Hardware. When choosing a Hardware Configuration, remember the VIP Server will make this a Shared Resource, and thusly dividing up the available bandwidth among all simultaneous users. Consider 10 people accessing the Internet (i.e. Surfing, Downloading Files, Accessing On-Line Resources, etc) through a VIP Server configured with a 56K Modem. This will most likely give unacceptable performance.
  • Availability: Not all access methods are available in all areas. 56K modems can be connected to any standard telephone line, but depending on the area and carrier, the theoretical maximum speed of 53.3K is rarely realized. ISDN offers speeds between 56K and 128K depending on the carrier, location, and the ISDN adapter. Cable modems are not offered by all Cable TV Companies, and may are in process of tooling up for Cable Modems. DSL is limited by your physical proximity to their switching station. 1.5 miles is the maximum distance allowed under standard DSL. Extend DSL is more expensive and can offer ranges up to 5 miles. T-1 thru OC-5 are fast but expensive solutions that can be offered in most areas.
  • Cost: The eternal balance between performance and cost is a choice that only you can make. When in doubt, we recommend going with a higher performance choice, as the Internet is being used on an increasing basis. It's better to have and not want than want and not have.

Hardware Configuration Details:
Dial-Up Connections: The 56K Modem and ISDN Adapter are Dial-Up devices, meaning they are not always connected, but rather have to dial up the IPS and establish a connection. The VIP Server can help lower the cost of Internet Access by opening and closing these Dial-Up connections. When a Network User request something from the Internet, the VIP Server dials the ISP and establishes the link. After a period of Inactivity (no Network users requesting anything from the Internet), the VIP Server will close the connection. The Idle time can be set from a few seconds to several hours. This is a balance between lower cost (espically for ISDN) and the delay period required for the Dial-Up call to be established. For most offices a Idle period of 1 Hour seems to work well. This keeps the connection alive all day while people are working but closes it after everybody goes home.

Open Connections: Cable Modem, DSL, and T-x connections are always open, so there is no dial delay, and access is virtually instantaneous. The VIP Server monitors these commections and if there is an interruption in service, attempts to re-establish the connection until successful.

Regardless of the Hardware configuration used, the VIP Server allows for quicker, more efficient Internet access through the use of Cache. Cache is a French word meaning bank or holding place. When a Web Page is called up by a Network user, a copy of that page is stored on the VIP Server Hard Drive. The next time a Network user calls up that same Web Page, it is found locally in the VIP Server's Cache, and can be delivered very quickly as compared to the time required to download that same page all over again. This helps conserve Internet bandwidth, decrease costs, and can dramatically increase performance.

INTERNET SECURITY:
The aspect of Internet Security is of vital importance to any Network accessing the Internet. Without Security measures in place and operational, any network becomes vulernable by Hackers.

The definition of a Hacker is an Internet user that attempts to gain access to resources they do not have permission to use. Without the proper Security precautions in place and operational, Internet hackers can essentially "swimming up stream" into your system. Once a Hacker gain access to a Network, they may be able to copy or destroy all Data, create Spam, and a variety of other mischief, be it malevolent or benivelent. To combat Hackers, the VIP Server utilizes a security device called a "Firewall", making unauthorized access to your Network from the Internet impossible. The Network users access the Internet as they would normally, using what ever software they are used to, never knowing they are behind a Firewall. The VIP Server is transparent to the Network users, and impenetrable to the Internet hacker.

The VIP server can be configured to offer a high degree of Security. User access to the Internet can be limited to certain days or times of the day. Daily usage logs can be compiled for review by an Office Manager, showing who is using the Internet and how they are using (or abusing) it. The VIP server can be expanded with Filters that block access to specific Web sites, such as Adult sites or competitors.

ACCESS TO LOCAL & INTERNET EMAIL:
Each designated Network user can compose, send, and receive private Email from their own Workstation, using a locally installed copy of Netscape Navigator. Other Email programs can be used such as Microsoft Exchange or Eudora, but we highly recommend Netscape due to it's intutuve interface, ease of use, advanced features, quick learning curve, and familiarity amoung users. If only basic Email functions are required, the VIP Server has a built-in Email client, allowing a Network user to read, compose, and send Email from their Workstation without installing any Email program.

The VIP Server can handle both kinds of Email:

One of the advantage to this sort of environment is simplicity. There is a single source for messages, both Local and Internet. Users are not required to learn and use two separate Email systems, one for Internet Email and another for Local Email. This makes administration simpler, eases the burden on each Workstation by only having to run one Program, and eliminates the cost of purchasing separate programs.

The VIP Server periodically checks for new Email, and automatically downloads and Virus checks each new message. New messages are then delivered directly (or Routed)to each users desktop. Most IPS's can configure your Email accounts in a "Star" configuration, meaning that messages can be sent to "anyname@yourdomain.com". The VIP server works perfectly in this environment, allowing all designated Network user to send and receive private Email directly from their desktop. No other users can see an Email, and each mailbox is password protected.

Many users have more than one Email account. The VIP Server can easily be configured to service multiple Email accounts for each Network user, handling these messages in one of two ways:

  • Download and Delete: This is the normal manner Email is handled. When the VIP Server downloads a message from an Internet Email Server, the message is deleted from that Email Server.
  • Download a Copy: Messages on an Email Server can be downloaded, but left on that Email Server (not deleted). This configuration allows monitoring of an Email account. As an example, suppose you have an Email account with Yahoo that you use at home. The VIP Server can download a copy of your Yahoo Email, leaving the original message on the Yahoo Email Server. When you get home and check your Yahoo Email, the same message is there, waiting for you. As normal, once the message is download from the Yahoo Email Server it is deleted.
The VIP Server can be configured in any number of ways that best fit your particular environment and requirements.

The VIP Serve notifies the Network user of new Email through a small icon that resides in the system tray (the lower right hand corner of the screen). If there is no new Email, the icon is a small envelope. When the VIP Server has new Email for you, the envelope starts waving a tiny red flag. If desired a notification sound may also be played (al la AOL's "You've got Mail"). Mail notification does not pop up in your face, forcing you to deal with new Email immediately. Double clicking the tray icon launches the Netscape Email program, making retrieval or composition of Email convenient and easy.

The VIP Server acts as an in-house POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) Server. This is similar in function to the Email Servers used by the ISP. It collects local or Internet Email, and then properly routes each message to the appropriate recipient. This makes for very quick and easy uploading and downloading of messages. Many Internet Email users become frustrated with the amount of time wasted waiting for Email to either download or upload. The VIP makes the transfer of Email very quick, because it is all done in-house. The VIP gathers and stores large Email messages and can download or upload those messages at near Network performance, not the relatively slow performance of a modem. The VIP frees up the Workstation to do more productive activities than wait for a large Email to upload or download.

One advantage to the VIP Server is the creation of Groups. A Group is a collection of Local Email users that all need to receive a given message. As an example, suppose the President wants to notify every member of the Sales staff that RAM prices have doubled. Instead of sending an Email message to each of the the 22 Sales people, the announcement is sent to the "Sales" group, and the VIP Server automatically distributes the message to all members of the Sales Group. Another example is an incoming Internet message from the RAM manufacture is addressed to the Purchasing Department. All 12 members of the Purchasing Department need to know that stock prices for RAM have decreased 3 fold. This incoming message would automatically be distributed to all 12 members of the Purchasing Department Group.

Another advantage of the VIP Server is it's ability to filter Spam. Spam is unsolicited Email, that is, Email you did not ask to receive. Spam can include such things as get rich schemes, advertisements, etc. The VIP Server can be programmed to accept Email only from certain Domains, Servers, or Users. Spam Mail can be automatically deleted, saving all users the agrevation, frustration, and wasted time of plowing through junk Email.

The VIP works transparently in the background. It periodically calls the Internet and checks for new Email. When an outgoing Email message is detected, it is delivered immediately. The user gains near Network performance, not limited to the modem speed. When new Email arrives, it is Virus Scanned, and the recipient is then notified of new mail. This is totally automated, requiring no user intervention, so the user does not have to remember to go "check for Email", but instead Email is delivered directly to their desktop. Reading or composing a new Email is one mouse click away, and Netscape offers built in spell checking for all messages. The VIP offers the office a secure, high performance, convenient, and cost effective Internet Access solution.

EMAIL SECURITY:
There are extensive security features available in the VIP Server, allowing for a secure Email environment. The VIP can be configured for an office manager to monitor Email activity and/or Email messages as needed. The VIP also checks (scans) all incoming Email attachments for potential Virus infection.

A Virus is a computer program written by a programmer (I use that term loosley). All computer Viruses are programmed with two purposes:

  • Propagate: All Virus want to infect a Host computer and then spread to other uninfected computers, repeating the process over and over. In this manner the Virus spreads, attempting to infect as many computers as possible.
  • Payload: All Viruses do something to the Host computer. That something varies from consuming computer resources and slowing down your system to destroying all data on the Hard Drive. Each Virus has it's own payload which may be delivered, or triggered any number of ways. The amount of man hours and work lost to viruses is considered so large as to be incalculable.
At present the most common method of spreading Viruses is through Internet Email. The VIP Server combats Viruses by scanning all incoming Email attachments for Viruses. If a suspect message is found, the VIP Server is programmed to handle such threats by either:
  • Deleting the infected message: This eliminates both the Virus and the message completely. This method is fast and complete, but eliminates the possibility of salvaging a potentially important message, and eliminates any accountability for the infected message.
  • Quarintene the infected message: The message may be quarintened, or sequestered away on the VIP Server, safely stored, inaccessible to all Email users except a designated System Administrator who is familiar with and has the tools to deal with Viruses. The advantages of Sequestering messages is, depending on the Virus, the infected Email may be able to be cleaned up, eliminating the Virus, allowing important messages to then be delivered. More importantly, many times it is possible to determine the source (sender) of the infected message. It is quite possible that the sender is totally unaware they have a Virus infection. It is also possible that the infected message was deliberately sent. In such cases, the sender may be brought up on criminal charges.
By making the VIP Server the centralized Email resource for the entire Network, all incoming Email is Virus scanned. This can potentially eliminate the need to run an Anti-Virus program on each Workstation, thus lowering costs and increasing Workstation performance and reliability. The VIP Server uses McAfee's Anti-Virus engine to protect against Viruses. This is the cutting edge of Virus protection, and has the ability to detect virtually all viruses, both known and new.

VIP - THE COST EFFECTIVE SOLUTION:
The VIP Server offers features designed for the Business environment at reasonable cost. Licensing can be configured for any combination of user levels (i.e. 5 users can access the internet, while 25 users have Email accounts). Licenses can be expanded for the cost difference between the user levels plus labor. The following is the current price sheet:

INTERNET LICENSE
USERS STANDARD PROFESSIONAL
3 110 N/A
6 194 415
12 318 691
25 484 968
50 691 1175
UNLIMITED 968 1313

EMAIL LICENSE
USERS PRICE
5 55
10 104
25 173
50 249
100 346
250 518
UNLIMITED 865

The VIP comes with a one year parts and labor warranty, and all minor software upgrades are free for a period of one year.

Increasing numbers of Businesses are finding Internet and Email access is quickly becoming an essential component in the business equation. The The VIP Server is a mature product that has developed over the past 6 years. It is designed for Home, Office, or Enterprise Network environment. The VIP Server offers Network users quick, convenient, secure, private, and easy to use access to the Internet along with Local and Internet Email. Coupled with allowing a high degree of control, flexibility, security, and accountability, the VIP Server is the cost effective solution for Internet Access.

CONCLUSION:

The VIP Server offers:

  • Security - Gives you control over Interent and Email access and activity.
  • Flexibility - Can work with virtually all Hardware and Operating Systems.
  • Safety - Protect your Intranet from Virus threats.
  • Highly Configurable - Both Hardware and Software.
  • Upgraeable - Will not become obsolete like some Hardware only solutions. The VIP Server combination of Software and Hardware allow easily updates and upgrades to keep it a viable tool for years to come.
  • Time Proven Stability - Our test and customer units have clocked over 40,000 hours of reliable, trouble free service.
  • Low Workstation Resource Requirments - The Workstation Internet Client or reconfiguration both have very low memory and CPU requirments.
  • A Mature Product - Having evolved over the past 6 years into what it is today. By it's very nature, it can continue to grow to meet future requirments.
  • Updates - Minor Software Updates are available for free for a period of one year.
  • Ease of use - The system works in the background, making for effortless Interent and Email access.
  • Transparent Operation - Works flawlessly with most software packages.
  • Works across multiple platforms - Service virtually all Internet ready Software and Operating Systems.
  • Cost Effective - The low cost solution for Internet and Email access for the Home, Office, or Enterprise.
  • Warranty: The VIP Server hardware carries a one year warranty.

Thank you

Scott