Linux-Based Appliance Delivers Secure Remote Access

The aggressively priced devices, from start-up enKoo, will allow remote small-business users to fully access office e-mail, files and applications via a Web browser.



Fremont, Calif.-based start-up enKoo this week will begin shipping small-business appliances that let remote users fully access office e-mail, files, and applications via a Web browser.

The Linux-based devices, which will cost $995 to $9,995 depending upon the number of users licensed, will compete most directly with virtual-private networks (VPNs) and hosted applications, such Citrix's GoToMyPC.

The prices between the competing products differ sharply. An enKoo device with a 25-user license is already being advertised by online retailers for $1,495. A 25-user license for the basic GoToMyPC, which also enables access to applications via a Web browser, costs $3,285. VPNs, which enable remote access by creating private data "tunnels" over the public Internet, are typically sold to small businesses in the form of thin servers or routers that vary widely in their sophistication and range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Meanwhile, enKoo will also likely compete with a slew of other remote access products, such as Famatech's Radmin, PC Anywhere, Timbuktu, LapLink, and AT&T's Virtual Network Computing (available as a free download). The chief difference with these products is that they typically require the remote client to have the proper software installed.

The enKoo remote-access device is available in two models: the enKoo 1000, for 10 to 100 users ($995 to $3,995), and the enKoo 2000, suitable for 25 to 500 users ($2,995 to $9,995). An IT administrator can control access to specific computers, files, and folders in seconds. Access can be restricted to those who pass through several levels of security, including an application-level password. enKoo, like GoToMyPC, uses 128-bit encryption.

"Today, it typically takes two to three applications to do what we're doing with this one device," said enKoo founder Ajit Deora. "Then there's the client training and PC setup. That's too costly to deploy." Deora, an engineer, started the company in 2002 with the help of more than $1 million in angel financing and the counsel of Rajeev Motwani, Stanford University Professor of Computer Science and technical advisor at Google, and Teher Elgamal, creator of SSL VPN protocol standards, and former chief scientist at Netscape. Previously, Deora co-founded Silicon Platforms, which was acquired by S3, and Sand Microelectronics, which was acquired by Phoenix Technologies.

A chief selling point will be enKoo's ease of use. Once the device is attached to the network, sitting between the desktop and the firewall, it takes only seconds to assign users their proper level of access. Immediately, users can transfer and edit any files to which they've been given permission. Also, no training is required for the remote users.

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