VPNs Done Dirt Cheap

Monday May 1st 2006 by Lauren Simonds
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Eli, Inc. intends to make VPNs — the most secure remote access technology — affordable and easy enough for small businesses.

Last October, Eli, Inc., announced TrustEli, an all-in-one security appliance featuring a wireless router with a managed service that provides, monitors and maintains firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam and content-filtering capabilities.

Today, the company announced it's taking that appliance a step further by adding remote access — in the form of secure VPN — to the mix. What's more, the company says that the new device, Eli VPN, eliminates the complexity and reduces the cost of setting up VPNs. It further claims that Eli VPN lets any small business create a VPN with the click of a mouse.

Historically, establishing a VPN entailed a lot of money and a lot of IT expertise — two conditions that kept many small businesses from taking advantage of the highly secure remote-access technology. According to Susan Lutz, Eli Inc.'s founder and CEO, a small business that wanted a VPN had no choice but to hire pricey consultants.

"Setting up a VPN requires detailed technical knowledge about TCP/IP networking, a deep understanding of encryption technologies and security expertise, which most organizations do not have and cannot afford," said Lutz. She added that a VPN device could range from $1,000 to $5,000 per location.

Complexity is the other issue that Eli, Inc. says it's addressed with the new appliance. A browser-based wizard walks you through setting up the VPN, which Lutz says takes a matter of minutes. "We've taken the mystery and intimidation out of setting up a VPN," she said. "It is so simple that you can set one up on the fly to provision a remote office, partner or customer for a day if you had to — or even an hour."

One of the key attributes VPN technology offers is rock-solid security — the remote connection is encrypted end-to-end. Lutz said that Eli VPN provides 256-bit AES strong encryption. Frame of reference: The US government has approved the use of AES encryption for classified information.

In addition to the VPN capability, Eli VPN offers the same security functions as the TrustEli appliance: anti-virus, spam control and content filtering. The managed service updates a minimum of 30 times a day for the latest definitions of viruses, spam, malware, phishing and more, according to the company.

Pricing:

Eli VPN: $249
To create a VPN, you need a device at each location. For example, you'd need three devices to service a main office and two branch offices.

Managed service: Eli VPN is designed for offices with up to 25 users. Monthly subscription pricing is as follows:

Five-user license: $19.99 per month
10-user license: $29.99 per month
25-user license: $39.99 per month

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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