Zyxel Melds 3G, Wi-Fi to Create a Wireless Security Appliance

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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ZyXEL shows that the sum is worth more than the parts when you add wireless broadband to wireless LAN and sprinkle in a bit of security with ZyWALL 2WG Secure Wi-Fi Firewall/VPN Router.

Connecting a wireless LAN to wired broadband is pretty much old hat; the market is littered with hundreds of devices that do just that and a little more. So, how does one find new market share in such a crowded market? Just come up with a better mousetrap!

ZyXEL’s better mousetrap comes in the form of the ZyWALL 2WG Secure Wi-Fi Firewall/VPN Router, a long name for a product, which fortunately has a lot to offer. As the very long name implies, the 2WG is a security appliance that offers the features of a broadband router, incorporates VPN, includes 802.11 A/B/G Wi-Fi, supports CDMA/HSDPA wireless broadband and sports a SPI Firewall. Basically, the 2WG is an all-in-one security appliance, suitable for a small business or branch office and can eliminate the need for wired broadband.

The 2WG offers several different deployment scenarios that help to make the device suitable for most any connectivity situation. First off, the unit can be configured using traditional wired connections, the unit sports a 10/100 Ethernet WAN connector and a 10/100 four port switch for LAN connections. Here, just like a traditional security appliance, a solution provider could hook up a wired LAN to the Internet using a wired WAN connection – much the same as the typical SoHo/SMB router. The big difference offered by the 2WG in that situation is the ability to configure a 3G PC-Card to work as a failover connection for the wired WAN. In other words, if the wired WAN goes down, Internet connectivity is preserved by the unit switching over to the CDMA/HSDPA 3G connection. That turns out to be a pretty good feature for sites that encounter frequent interruptions in service or must have connectivity at all times. Solution providers can go a step further in that scenario and configure the unit for load balancing, dividing traffic between the wired and wireless WAN connections.

While those scenarios may be interesting for most deployments, the 2WG really shows its magic when the wired connections are eliminated. For example, if there is a location that does not have wireless broadband available, especially a temporary location, such as a construction site, trade show booth or even a rural office – the 2WG can be configured to only use the 3G connection for broadband connectivity and service local PCs via 802.11 A/B/G Wi-Fi. In that environment, wired connections to the router (except of course, power) can be eliminated, creating a local LAN, with WAN capabilities instantly. The unit can also service multiple locations (trailers, offices) as long as they are within the range of the integrated Wi-Fi. Solution providers also have the option of installing high-gain Wi-Fi antennas to increase the range of the unit and perhaps cover a large outdoor area, such as a construction zone, car rental lot or truck stop. For locations with marginal 3G signal strength, solution providers may also be able to add an external CDMA/HSDPA antenna; that capability will be dictated by the 3G card that is used.

The wireless capabilities of the unit can be used to create some interesting scenarios. For example, with the use of a DC to AC power converter or appropriate power supply, the 2WG can be configured as a mobile hot spot to be used in a vehicle, such as a bus, limo or even a mobile command trailer.

While many of the features of the ZyWALL 2WG sound impressive, solution providers need to realize that the ZyXEL product isn’t the only one on the market with that feature set. SonicWall, DLink and others also offer 3G to Wi-Fi routers, and that should make a solution provider wonder why they should sell the ZyXEL product instead of something from a better known vendor.

For solution providers there are quite a few reasons to go with ZyXEL. First off, ZyXEL’s products are not found on retail shelves and that helps solution providers to maintain margins. Secondly, ZyXEL’s products are designed for business and not consumer environments. What’s more, ZyXEL’s products offer some features not found on competitors products and come in at a price point that is more affordable than the big names on the market. Those channel elements, when combined with the company’s excellent support, should make a solution provider think twice before passing over ZyXEL.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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