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I have a Linux server acting as a gateway and VPN endpoint. It's made from an old workstation and needs to be replaced. It's connected to another router in which we configure the VPNs. The server configuration is nothing fancy, but could take a while to restore/recover.

I've had problems with this system twice before. First the HD died. Last week the PS died in the last replacement system (a similar workstation). It's been moved to another workstation, and I realize the need for a better solution (including backup and supported hardware).

I'm looking at these options:

  1. Purchase a HP or Dell server, standard stuff with the usually redundancy.

  2. Purchase a Workstation, again normal bells and whistles.

  3. Virtualize the server. I'm considering rolling out Xen on one of our servers, migrating several light servers there and clear our some old equipment (have a HP DL380 G5 waiting). to our control.

With any a real backup plan would be rolled as well. I haven't work much with virtual environments.

In your experience/expertise may you provide your insights about the options and which one you'll use or if you can suggest another option that would be great too?

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@Chriss thanks for the edit ;) –  alemani Oct 5 '11 at 21:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

MikroTik. ;) Low cost, Linux-based routers with decent hardware. Depending on your traffic this is a RB450, RB750, RB1100 or RB1200.

You'd be surprised at the prices.

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Thanks @TomTom your suggestion looks great, for now I am going with the DL380 G5 with Xen but really looking forward to try your suggestion. –  alemani Jan 23 '12 at 18:27

If you're looking for new dedicated hardware for the VPN server, TomTom's suggestion of the MikroTik is quite sound. There are other SBC (Single Board Computer) manufacturers out there as well (Soekris, PC Engine, and Ubiquity to name a few). These boards are designed to run for extended periods of time without maintenance.

I would suggest learning Xen (or one of the other major hypervisors, eg ESX, Hyper-V, and KVM) and working on virtualizing the environment. From a hardware management standpoint you can build redundancy into, keep maintenance on, and generally worry about a single box.

The single box will probably burn significantly less electricity as well (the DL380 will probably run between 200-400 watts; most "workstation" computers will burn ~100W each; servers generally a bit more; old equipment even more). The electricity savings could probably justify the move if you have a dozen or more computers.

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I think your HP DL380 G5 is an excellent candidate for a SME-Server this can act as a gateway server and VPN access. Runs as an headless server with a web-based interface. They have a great contrib community that offer many templates for easy setup like a backup plan with Affa, BackupPC, Rsync or Shadowcopy. In your story it was not clear to me whether you have Windows clients but it can act as a PDC.

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I think he's got the software aspect under control. It's definitely not what he's asking for in the Question. He's asking for hardware recommendations. Using the DL380 as a dedicated VPN server is quite the waste of resources when he could virtualize the environment. –  Chris S Oct 5 '11 at 12:56

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