Setting up a point-to-point VPN connection between two remote offices
I just started a second office running a two-computer network. It is across town from my other office which has four computers. Some computers and networks are using Win ME on a single machine as a server and others are on Win 98SE. I have two questions. One, is it easy to change these "servers" over to Win XP and keep my connections the same? Two, is there an affordable way to connect these two networks to share information? The both have cable modems through a local ISP.
The upgrade to XP is pretty painless, assuming that all of your apps are compliant. The second part of your question is far more complex: what you're really talking about is setting up a point-to-point VPN connection between two remote offices. You'll need to discuss this with your ISP, since you'll need at least one static IP address for each location, or else the inter-office communication will break/need to be reconfigured whenever your cable modem's external IP changes. (Most ISPs won't give you a static IP unless you ask for it, and it costs extra.) Assuming that you get static IPs on both ends, I would actually recommend setting up a machine running an actual server operating system in at least one location to run the Routing & Remote Access Service.
Check out the following TechTarget white paper, it'll help you plan out your connectivity and security for your remote access/VPN solution: http://searchwin2000.techtarget.com/whitepaperPage/0,293857,sid1_gci916466,00.html.
This was first published in April 2004