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We are an all-Mac shop (well, actually, a mostly-Mac shop - we have some Linux servers running behind the scenes). We do web applications development and our files and source code is all hosted in-house.

Our Mac-toting consultants would like to connect to the office to access files (AFP to shared volumes), update source code (subversion over HTTP/HTTPS), and demo software (HTTP through a browser) when they are on a client site.

Traffic will be light. We are a small company (and cheap), and do not expect more than 3 or 4 people to be connected concurrently. However, we need the solution to be reliable. Many of our clients and consultants are abroad.

Which VPN Server Hardware is best for this scenario? I would prefer something that uses standard protocols - I understand that L2TP, PPTP and Cisco IPsec are built in to the OS - so something that uses these protocols will be ideal. (I have seen quite a few VPN solutions that have horrible, buggy, and badly supported client software). An added bonus would be support for iPads as well.

Naturally, I would like it to not be too expensive (I told you we are cheap), though what I really mean is that I am far more willing to pay for reliability and built-in support, than for features I do not need.

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How about a Mac Mini server edition? I'm also not sure if this question really belongs on this site, it's quite open-ended and subjective. –  Gerry Apr 23 '12 at 14:31
    
Are you looking to terminate SSL on dedicated hardware for reliability or sake of efficiency? (i.e. - why have hardware in the first place?) Unless I'm missing something this seems more of a network infrastructure question and less about Macs since they are mostly agnostic as clients of VPN providers. –  bmike Apr 23 '12 at 15:38

2 Answers 2

Where I work, we use the Junos line of products for VPN connections. I'm a little light on the details as far as the hardware requirements and the setup costs etc. but we've had very little issues with them. Some advantages:

  • Platform independent

    The vpn runs in Java (I believe, I never took the time to look really) and can be run on pretty much any platform. I've tried on Mac and PC, though if you might need Linux you should check into that first.

  • Works on iPad

This might be a bit more enterprise-y (read: Expensive) than your company is willing to fork over. In that case, you might look into the built-in Mac OS X VPN. Mac OS X Server has advertised VPN hosting capabilities which you can apparently use something like iVPN (though if you're technical with the CLI, you can probably get by without it.) I don't have any on-the-job experience with this as we're a strictly SOHO environment, but it's for sure worth looking into.

There are enterprise options out there if your company is looking for a managed solution. If not, there are options for enterprising individuals willing to put forth the necessary time and effort to make sure it all works. I've experimented in the past with VPN and, though it was years ago and I'm sure the software has matured, I'd definitely prefer a managed solution.

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MacOS X Server already has a GUI for configuring the VPN and other services. No need for iVPN or messing about with the command line. I'm also not sure how a VPN server running in Java makes it platform independent, in the end it's just a service clients can connect to. –  Gerry Apr 23 '12 at 15:23
up vote 0 down vote accepted

We used a Mac mini with Lion Server in the end. The VPN bit was relatively easy to set up. I followed the instructions at Mac mini CoLo (http://macminicolo.net/lionservervpn)

We also set up the same server to act as a DNS server. There is an EXCELLENT tutorial for this at Hoffman Labs (http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/1436)

L2TP works brilliantly for connection from Mac clients, iPads and iPhones.

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