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I have following situation:

I have three clients in 3 different cities. They are all 24/7 available computer machines running in different schools and collecting energy measurements in the buildings. All three need to securely communicate with remote central database system (in 4th city) and periodically upload the data. I have the information that hardware VPN solution needs to be implemented here, but have no specification about what routers (if any) are installed on the network where database is. I also have information that DSL internet connection is available at all 3 remote measuring locations. What type of architecture, and implementation would you suggest?

Could buying of device like this be helpful? Does it matter what router is on the other side, as long as it has IPSec?

Thanks,

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Wouldn't simple HTTPS communication suffice? It depends what you mean by "upload" and whether you need communication to be 2-way. –  pjc50 Feb 24 '12 at 10:56
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2 Answers

IPsec implementations vary wildly between the major vendors; you may be in for a world of pain if you choose poorly...

However, if you can find 4 identical devices for relatively little money, you should be good :)

Most small (consumer-grade) VPN-capable devices are also routers and modems, though - so perhaps you can find something that can replace the DSL modems at all locations, if this does not conflict with other requirements on-site.

I recommend the Cisco SOHO line (8xx DSL modems) without reservation - these should run you to rougly $300-$500 each.

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I think this depends on

  • how the measuring clients are connected to the network
  • what protocol they use to deliver the data
  • how sensitive the collected data really is
  • how reliable/stable/secure the receiving server app is

When I am assuming that the server side is reliable and secure, the measuring devices are behind a secure firewall and that you can use protocols like https or scp to transfer the data, I wouldn't necessary see the need for a VPN for this purpose.

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Hi, 1.Measuring devices are all connected in M-Bus system with data acquisition unit that sends data to local computer. This computer is only connected to DSL internet. Same for all tree locations. 2. Data will be in CSV files, and needs batch upload to server. Database provider will install their software module for upload to the database on all 3 clients. 3. This data is medium-sensitive, but they still want secure 24/7 transfer. 4. They offer 24/7 reliable receiving server, as it needs to collect data each hour from multiple locations. –  ZeC Feb 24 '12 at 11:05
    
If the server allows for secure delivery of the data (as said with something like https or scp) I don't see the need for the additional complexity and expense of a VPN for this use case. –  SvW Feb 24 '12 at 11:14
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