Evaluation questions/thoughts from a potential customer

Greetings. I am the (lone) IT admin for a large non-profit in Northern California. I came across EasyVPN awhile back, but have been using Neorouter for a few years.

Recently, for unknown reasons, I have experienced an unacceptable amount of instability in the Neorouter infrastructure (a mix of changes in our environment and theirs), and decided it’s time to go with something different. I came back to find EasyVPN is now CUnite, and a number of excellent features have been added to the product since I last reviewed it.

Although deploying a new VPN client means revisiting all 200 desktops, I will gladly do so for a product that provides a stable and reliable network client. I am also happy to pay the $199 a year for a 300 client package if said product performs consistently. I have installed the app on a few machines at a few different locations in our agency, and so far the prospects are encouraging!

Things I like:

  1. A CU network adapter is installed and given a static IP, and that machine is pingable and reachable by RDP using just the host name. Beautiful!
  2. No apparent limit on the number of clients that can be created and added to a network (vs the 254 client limit on Neorouter Free).
  3. Runs as a service so no end user interaction with the client is required
  4. Solid connection seems to work well with a VNC client using either the IP address or host name of the target machine
  5. All connections can be managed in one screen using admin logon

A couple questions:

  1. Will the client AUTO update (without user intervention) if the “check for updates” option is enabled.
  2. Are there any command line options for install/upgrade/uninstall?
  3. What options/features are available in the paid version that are not present in the free version
  4. Will there be a more enterprise-oriented user management mechanism incorporated at some future point (see concerns below)?
  5. What’s the timeline for the next release?

A few concerns/observations:

  1. No immediately obvious mechanism for adding clients/users to a network without creating account; a unique email address is needed in order to set a machine up so that machine is uniquely identified on the network. Meaning, I cannot simply associate a machine with an account unless I create a unique email address for that machine… and having to create 200 email accounts just to manage unique VPN endpoints seems ridiculous. It would be FAR more efficient if, in the network management console, one could add and remove users; and to set up a client machine, all that was needed was a user name (which in my case would be the machine’s host name) and centrally managed password. One of the things that I liked about Neorouter was that I entered the same username/password/network for each client at install time and that machine showed up in my list by host name.

And then each machine could be managed with one account having an email address (my admin account), and assigned to networks corresponding to each location (I manage 11). I am not sure if this makes sense, and the current limitation is really more of an inconvenience than a true hurdle. To manage the end points the way I am envisioning would allow me to more easily segregate the networks and also enable the client to run so I could send/receive chats to/from that machine no matter who was logged on.

I should point out that if the new account registration process simply allowed a “+” character in the email address, this would all be a non issue. In my case, running a Google Apps domain, I would simply create each account as “ccarcit+(hostname)@arcofcc.org” and that would eliminate the need to create new email accounts since Gmail handles the “+” as a sub-address of the main part of the account. Very handy in situations like these. That seems like it would be much easier to implement than changing your whole user management schema.

  1. The remote access client is a nice-to-have, but seems a little “rough”. Not a big deal since I prefer VNC and RDP for remote assistance and management, and always nice to have a backup because there is always something not working quite right somewhere.

In any case, I think this product will work quite nicely for my environment, even if all I use is the VPN client running as a service.

Also, for the love of all things sortable, please add some sort of sorting in the “Networks” view. If I am going to try and manage 200+ computers with this thing, it would be really nice to have that option.