Chestnuts roasting on an unsecured LAN, Jack Frost nipping at your point-to-point solution, and so on and so forth. Before all that Xmas malarkey though, here's what's been happening in the networking work the past week.

Multi-point WANs emulated
Itheon has added a range of features to its Itheon Network Emulator (INE), including support for multi-site networks, VLANs and MPLS. The device is Linux-based PC with software that allows it to recreate a real network by creating virtual network interfaces and then injecting latency and errors, or applying a bandwidth throttle, for example.

Previous versions could only emulate point-to-point WANs, but INE version 4 also supports traffic classification and prioritisation, plus selective routing, so it can emulate sending VoIP traffic over one physical link and other data over another, say, or selectively impair and route VLANs to simulate different locations and link qualities within a multi-site organisation.

VPN security for IP telephony
Secure extension of HQ-quality telephony is Avaya's promise for its latest VPNremote software, which embeds VPN capabilities within the company's 4600-series IP telephones. The company said VPNremote will allow telecommuters to have an always-on handset with the capabilities of an office extension, such as speakerphone, call transfer and conferencing, and shortcode dialling, plus a built-in screen for web access.

Avaya claimed that the new software makes IP phones as simple to connect as a laptop, requiring merely power and a link to a broadband router. It added that IP phones can also be used at temporary sites such as trade shows or corporate events - for example, the American Red Cross recently used VPNremote IP phones to provide secure voice communications during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

The company has also introduced a Bluetooth headset compatible with the 4600-series phones, called the Avaya ABT-35s.

Cheaper TAPs pack more densely
Network Instruments has upgraded its optical nTAP line and cut its prices by 25 percent. It claimed TAPs are superior to SPAN sessions for network monitoring, because TAPs guarantee complete data transfer to the monitoring device, whereas SPAN sessions may drop packets if overloaded, and do not pass error frames.

Starting at £236, the new optical nTAPs are more compact than their predecessors, allowing a 50 percent capacity increase - up to nine full-duplex links can be supported in a single 1U rack panel. Several nTAP models are available, including Gbit single-mode, Gbit multi-mode, and 10Gbit multi-mode, and they can be mixed in a single panel. All are compatible with analysis tools such as network analysers, forensic appliances and IDS.

KVM adds audio - KAVM?
Adder Corporation has launched two multi-user KVM switches capable of supporting digitally-sampled audio, and video resolutions up to 1900x1440. The $1500 AdderView CATx enables local remote control of PCs and servers, while the $2200 CATx IP allows remote control over global distances.

The company claimed that its excellent video performance and click-free sound means sysadmins can manage remotely over a WAN, even relying upon audible alarms. It added that the CATx IP uses a "highly developed" version of the Real VNC server and remote viewer. The AdderView devices have 16 or 24 computer connections, one local user connection and three or four remote user connections.