Project Idea: Cheaper firewall and wireless centralized solution

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
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rbeede
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Project Idea: Cheaper firewall and wireless centralized solution

Postby rbeede » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:59 pm

The current equipment (Cisco) being used for firewall and wireless deployments has the nice advantage of having centralized software and configuration management, but the cost could be lower using other hardware.

This project would involve developing a centralized management system for Linux based wireless routers & firewalls. It would be open source and free and serve as a possible future tool for church use to save money by allowing the use of quality Linux based wireless routers which for just the hardware can cost half as much.

Routers that support 802.11n 2.4GHz (no need for 5.0 GHz since it doesn't penetrate walls very well anyway) and Linux would be ideal. Probably OpenWRT for a OS platform since it is the most stable and offers easy additions. A 3x3:2 or 4x4:4 antenna configuration would be ideal along with removable antennas so short pigtails could be used to locate them outside of a metal cabinet.

Standardizing the hardware used would be ideal along with a provider that could supply them in bulk.

netwrt is a start on this but may not be developed enough. I prefer Java web applications myself. Ideally some type of downloadable installer platform that could flash the hardware with a turn-key firmware that can self-activate would be nice. Another feature would be IPv6 support as well and required would be VPN. Perhaps even an IPv6-to-IPv4 gateway to get around IP address space problems that exist now.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:37 pm

That's an interesting idea, but I doubt the Church would want to go that route. People who work with meetinghouse networks will naturally think mostly about that part of the Church network. But the overall Church network is much, much bigger than that. It involves many organizations, Church departments, etc. So changing one part of that larger network to use totally different hardware and management processes may save some costs, but would add many other costs.
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Postby Aczlan » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:45 pm

I agree with aebrown. The biggie is probbaly the management processes. That is where something like the Cisco hardware they use really shines.
I use OpenWRT for wireless access points at 40+ libraries, it works well, but you have to log into each one to do any work on it and firmware updates for 40+ locations gets fun

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rbeede
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Postby rbeede » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:41 pm

This would be a solution to use 5-10 years down the road from now when aging hardware is starting to get replaced anyway. It could be used for an entire network really as the project would be a more general purpose framework and not just church specific. Dual support for Cisco hardware would be feasible as well.

The idea is to automate everything so you don't have to log into each one which includes firmware updates. When doing a new setup/install ideally the device would already be configured and provisioned from the manufactor/vendor with the necessary software so it just plugs and plays. For advanced cases a tool for STS to use to repair software configs would be a nice to have.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:23 pm

rbeede wrote:It could be used for an entire network really as the project would be a more general purpose framework and not just church specific. Dual support for Cisco hardware would be feasible as well.


In which case you may find more support "on the outside" as you'd have a much larger pool of potentially interested people to work on the project.

My sense of the church projects at this point is there's no shortage of projects, but there is a shortage of talent to develop what's already in progress.
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Postby JamesAnderson » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:19 am

And Cisco makes dang good routers too, we had a PIX 501 that was not replaced until last year at an FHC, and the only reason we replaced that was because it did finally fail, it had lasted more than probably eight years. Their commercial routers are extremely good and sturdy too.

However, a home router Cisco sells under another brand name that we had in a home setup for only two years had to be replaced because it was dropped while moving it. The fall was only about three feet, but was enough to trash it.


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