Tip of the Trade: Vyatta
Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD admins have long known that expensive networking kit from big-name vendors like Cisco is unnecessary for the majority of networking tasks. If you're not a service provider, you don't need expensive high-end gear. When it comes to routing, firewalls, bridging, QoS, genuine secure VPNs (not silly overpriced SSL Web portals), secure remote administration, proxying, wireless access points, and content and malware filtering, any of these free or open source operating systems on ordinary x86 hardware can perform these networking jobs capably for a fraction of the cost. You can even get streamlined specialized implementations, such as m0n0wall, Zeroshell, Pyramid, IPCop, and many more that contain just the applications needed for networking and border services, and that put a friendly graphical administration interface on top, to boot. Vyatta may be the first to try to commercialize a specialized networking Linux implementation in a big way. It's going head-to-head with Cisco, and even publishes a handy comparison guide. Vyatta's core routing engine is Quagga, the robust, battle-testing Unix routing suite. Quagga replaces the XORP networking platform at Vyatta's core. Quagga offers better performance and higher scalability." Looking to save on networking costs? XORP-based Vyatta makes it possible to replace expensive gear with commodity hardware at a fraction of the cost.
Vyatta comes in a number of forms. You can run it from a live CD and store your data and configurations on removable media, or install it to a hard disk or flash drive. It installs on the hardware of your choice, and you can purchase a complete appliance that includes the hardware. The community edition is free. A professional or enterprise subscription, support, training and hardware appliances cost money. A subscription includes immediate access to patches, fixes, new releases, and varying levels of support, from immediately to next-business-day.
Vyatta claims superior performance for a fraction of the cost. The newest release supports 10 gigabyte Ethernet, has an improved command-line interface, better access controls, and better WAN load balancing. It still has its excellent graphical control panel, and all the usual goodies you get with Linux networking. Visit Vyatta for free downloads, pricing, and documentation.