In my article “Sharing Internet access with one IP address,” I discussed how to share Internet access using new products from Sybergen and Linksys. While great for the consumer, these products aren’t practical or efficient for a corporate network. To address this concern, this article examines the routing and remote access options available with Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Windows 2000 Advanced Server allows IT professionals to share Internet access, flatten their network, and not compromise connectivity.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server
I have to admit that at first glance, I thought it was a bad idea to place a Windows 2000 box on my network just to share Internet access. However, the Remote and Routing Access module quickly changed my mind. After the installation and a lot of experimenting with the many new modules, it turned out to be a very eye-opening experience. There are many modules, plug-ins, and components included in the new network operating system, and in future articles, I am going to explore the many possibilities this OS offers. For the purpose of this article, however, I’ll focus on the Remote and Routing Access module. As many of your posts to my previously mentioned article indicated, simplicity is key when it comes to sharing a single IP for Internet access. The Routing and Remote Access module installation was relatively easy, and the configuration of it was even easier. Let’s take a closer look.

Remote and routing access configuration
Once the Windows 2000 Advanced Server is installed, the easiest way to get to the Routing and Remote Access (R&R) module is by right-clicking on the My Computer icon on your desktop and choosing Manage. Once you are in the Computer Management window, shown in Figure 1, expand the Services And Applications tree, marked with the red arrow, and the R&R module, marked with the green arrow, will then be visible.

The green arrow indicates the location of the Windows 2000 Advanced Server Routing and Remote Access module.

If the R&R module is not running, a red arrow pointing down will appear on the icon next to the R&R title. If the R&R module is up and running, a green arrow pointing upward will appear.
In order to configure the R&R module correctly, you must have your DNS server and DHCP server information handy. You should also have already installed a second network adapter card in the machine (I’ll discuss the reason for this later).
Starting the routing and remote access setup wizard
To start the R&R setup wizard, click the Action button at the top of the toolbar as shown in Figure 2. Then click Configure And Enable Routing And Remote Access. A dialog box will appear reporting that you’ve started the R&R wizard. Click Next to continue.

Click Configure And Enable Routing And Remote Access.

On the next screen, you will see the connection choices. As shown in Figure 3, from here you can configure various connections, including the popular RAS and VPN connections. For this demonstration, choose the first option—Internet Connection Server.

For this demonstration, choose Internet Connection Server.

Using two NICs
We want the ability to share our Internet connection with the rest of the network computers, so we will need an additional NIC placed in the PC. The R&R module gives you a choice to use Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), or Network Address Translation (NAT). For the purpose of our demonstration, we will choose NAT. Assign the outside Internet connection NIC an IP address assigned to you by your ISP, and then give an internal IP scheme to the second NIC. The R&R module does the rest.

When installing your NICs, be sure to use unique names for your cards. The naming convention is entirely up to you, but I recommend using names that will allow you to quickly recognize which NIC is serving what purpose. This is especially handy when you happen to be using the same brand of network cards. In my case, I have two 3Com 905B cards installed, so I used Wizard.Home for my external card because this is the card that is actually connected to the outside Internet. I then used RacerX.Lan to represent my internal LAN.

After you have chosen Internet connection server and clicked Next in the previous screen, you are ready to make the choice between ICS and NAT (see Figure 4). I chose NAT, and I suggest you do the same for several reasons that I will discuss in a future article. For now, just trust me.

Select the Network Address Translation (NAT) routing protocol.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when setting up NAT through Routing and Remote Access. First, you must set up a DHCP server before beginning the setup. Second, you must decide what IP scheme to assign the inside card. The R&R module will use NAT to masquerade your internal network, and the only visible IP will be the one assigned to you by your ISP.
Choose your connection type
The next screen that appears is the Internet Connection page. Here we have a couple of choices to make. First, do we want to create a demand-dial Internet connection? Since we have a cable modem and a 24/7 connection to the Internet, our answer is “No.” However, if you are using a dial-up modem or a modem pool, then you might want to create a demand-dial connection. Our second choice is to decide which NIC to designate as the outside Internet connection (see Figure 5). This is where our naming convention pays off. Simply choose the card that is directly connected to the Internet and click Next.

Specify your Internet connection NIC.

The final screen, shown in Figure 6, will then appear, and we are finished. We have set up the Windows 2000 Advanced Server to act as a router and share our single IP to use with the rest of our network.

Figure 6
Click Finish to complete the Routing and Remote Access configuration.

Wrapping up
I realize that using Windows 2000 Advanced Server might have a high price attached for a home network user’s solution. However, I think that not only is this a good large network solution, but it is also a good SOHO business solution as well. For the general home user, I would probably stick to the Sybergen or Linksys products unless you are planning to do other things like host a Web or FTP server, in which case Windows 2000 Advanced Server might be the choice for you.
Do you use Windows 2000 Advanced Server for your corporate network? Are you pleased with its performance? We want to know. Post a comment or send us an e-mail.