Open-source routing vendor Vyatta is adding SSL VPN, intrusion prevention, web caching, URL filtering and other features to the newest version of its software.

Following the practice of Linux distributors, Vyatta distributes routing software in a free version and sells a more up-to-date version along with support. Customers can also buy the software on a standard x86 server. It offers a less expensive, more flexible alternative to the familiar enterprise routing products from the likes of Cisco Systems and Juniper, according to Vyatta. The platform is designed primarily for enterprises, and about half of its customers are outside the US, according to Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy and marketing for the Belmont, California, company.

Vyatta Community Edition 5 (VC5), supports OpenVPN, an open-source version of SSL VPN software. SSL joins IPSec, PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol) and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol) as VPN alternatives included in the routing platform. Frequently used to secure web-based transactions, SSL is a relatively lightweight encryption system that works more easily with NAT (Network Address Translation) than do alternatives such as IPSec.

Vyatta is also adding an intrusion-detection and protection system based on the open-source intrusion-prevention system Snort Inline. It can detect intrusion attempts by using Snort-based signatures and network-based detection mechanisms. VC5 can then drop packets associated with a detected attack, preventing the intrusion.

Network administrators can now enforce policies on Vyatta by blocking users from accessing certain web sites through URL filtering. VC5 acts as a Web proxy server, inspects the URL and blocks the site, sending an error message to the user.

VC5 also includes features for boosting performance. It can act as a proxy server for web caching, storing data so it doesn't have to be downloaded over the Internet by multiple clients individually. The new Ethernet bonding capability allows users to group Ethernet links together into larger virtual links.

Other enhancements include a new web-based graphical interface for managing VC5-based systems, DNS forwarding and Dynamic DNS for small enterprises and branch offices, improved drivers that boost the performance of VMware and Xen virtual machines running VC5, and support for additional hardware, including 3G (third-generation) mobile data modems.