602Pro LAN Suite 2002 — A single server bundle with mail server, Web server, fax server, proxy server, DHCP server, and LDAP directory capabilities
602Pro LAN Suite 2002 is a perfect example of a product that is both more and less.
It’s more because it bundles what are often separate products into a single suite of servers, offering mail server, Web server, fax server, proxy server, and DHCP server components. It’s less because none of these servers are high powered, feature-rich (we’re tempted to say behemoth) components suitable for enterprise purposes.
Instead, the offering is a near-ideal collection of capabilities for home or small offices at the right price — free for up to five users.
Installation and Management
LAN Suite claims quick installation and configuration, and on that it delivers. The Configuration Wizard is a big help, and the whole process can be completed in a matter of minutes. Which is not to say that the process is brainless. The unique combination of servers in one package can raise issues; for example, the mail server requires a guaranteed Internet connection with a static IP address. The Web server makes sense with the same arrangement, or on an intranet (LAN). The firewall (proxy) server, which also handles Internet connection sharing, could work with a generic dial-up Internet connection.
These are not mutually exclusive requirements, but they do need to be properly arranged. Likewise, configuring a network (even a small home network) takes some planning and often requires reworking of operating system settings. Most of this is routine for large networks, but for LAN Suite’s target users we suspect the multiplicity of servers and configurations may at times be confusing.
Featurewise, the LAN Suite mail server stands out as the most complete component, comparing reasonably well to dedicated mail server packages such as MailSite or MDaemon. It provides a solid SMTP/POP3 email system that in this version also encompasses the security of SSL. Also new in the 2002 version is support for the Grisoft antivirus plug-in.
A freeware version of the mail server is bundled with LAN Suite, and it can be easily upgraded to the professional version. Also added are capabilities to manage and block spam and other mail-borne nuisances (e.g., bulk mailers). The server can be accessed through standard email programs such as Microsoft Outlook or through the new Web access mail client. We particularly liked the new LDAP-based address book, which makes it easier to import and export user lists. We found the mail server relatively easy to configure and administer, making it well suited for organizations that would like to control their own mail systems without getting into deep technical waters.
The LAN Suite Web server is much more basic than the mail server, although we found it functional. In this version, SSL has been added to the Fast CGI and ISAPI support to round out the feature set.
Likewise, the fax server does the job without much in the way of frills.
We think the clincher for LAN Suite in many small networks will be the control of sharing expensive Internet connections. Windows 2000 and XP have built-in sharing but offer very little control. LAN Suite incorporates proxy server (firewall) functionality that includes the capability to monitor and regulate what URLs are allowed (both in and out), make private connections through mapped links (TCP/UDP), and operate IP filtering. The key point is that because of the suite approach, the protection features work together with mail and Web servers.
Individually, the LAN Suite servers don’t have the features (and in many cases the bells and whistles) of dedicated packages, but collectively this is a unique and very useful combination that can be run on a single computer. Administration of the servers is relatively simple and now provides for remote (Web) access and extensive logging of Web server, proxy, and proxy cache activities in the W3C format for easy analysis by log file analyzers.
602Pro LAN Suite is not heavy-duty server software, but it’s not supposed to be. That’s why on an absolute scale of performance and features LAN Suite 2002 might get three stars, but for its target market we believe it merits four stars. For a small business or home office, the philosophy, the marketing niche, and the pricing of 602Pro LAN Suite 2002 is ideal. It’s a surprising amount of server power, even if an organization ends up needing to pay for additional users.
Pros: A unique collection of Internet related servers; free entry point provides a great way for a small business or home network to begin operating Web site, email, firewall, and fax services
Cons: None of the servers is robust or feature-rich enough for heavy-duty use
| Version Reviewed: 2002.002
Reviewed by: Nelson King
| Last Updated: 5/09/02
Date of Original Review: 5/9/02