The Cyclades PR 4000 remote access server is a newly released RAS solution that should shake up that market niche a little. The reason is simple: it’s flexible, affordable (for what it offers), and adds features not often found on a RAS. The Cyclades PR 4000 is a RAS and router in one. Our review unit was shipped with two T1/E1 interfaces, sixteen analog modems, and two 10/100BaseT network connectors. Optional modules add in to provide fiber optic ports (10/100BaseT compatible) and a WAN routing card.

The Cyclades PR 4000 box is a blue sheet steel unit. Rack mount handles are provided in the container if you need them. The front of the unit has a set of status LEDs, a compass rose setup for four touch switches, and a multi-line LCD screen for information. The back of our review unit has a power switch, two 10/100BaseT RJ45 ports, an RJ45 port for a provided console cable which plugs into any DB25 serial port, and two T1 ports. A fan on the back dissipated the heat at the cost of a little noise. The unit is sturdy and a little heavy, but ideal for stacking with other network components. Inside the unit is a RISC processor to handle the I/O processing and a flash memory chip that seems to be 6MB. Additional memory can be added internally as needed. Accompanying the Cyclades PR 4000 is a well-written User’s Guide.

The Cyclades PR 4000 uses a proprietary operating system called CyROS. Configuration of the Cyclades PR 4000 can be from the front panel but the console connection is much easier. After the initial configuration is performed, the console connection can be broken. The console uses a standard VT100 emulation, so will work with practically any computer and serial port on the market. An alternative is to set the console port up to a modem and access it remotely, which may be a benefit for administrators dealing with remote locations. The Cyclades PR 4000 can also be configured through a Web browser.

We tested the Cyclades PR 4000 using dual T1 lines, adding the Cyclades PR 4000 to our internal 100BaseT Ethernet network. Load for the Cyclades PR 4000 was provided by thirty UNIX and Windows workstations. Configuration was from a SCO OpenServer 5 dual CPU system. The dial-in RAS component was tested through all 16 ports using Windows 98 workstations on an internal PBX. Configuring the Cyclades PR 4000 from a serial terminal was simple: provide basic information such as IP address and netmask, as well as any application-specific information you want to add. If you have the optional WAN expansion board, you can configure that through the menus for any protocol, including PPP/MPPP, SLIP, HDLC, X.25 and Frame Relay.

The router section of the Cyclades PR 4000 is configured with static and default routes. The Cyclades PR 4000 can populate the routing table dynamically from RIP and OSPF packets, or you can add routes manually. Gateways, metrics, and circuit specifics can all be added easily. On our network we only had to configure a single static route, which is the default gateway. Both DNS and host tables are supported. If you want to control users specifically using the Cyclades PR 4000, a user table can be populated manually, adding a password and login for each.

On the security side, apart from the user tables, you can add packet and service filtering to the Cyclades PR 4000. Packet and service filtering let you block packets that are not specifically allowed through the Cyclades PR 4000. You can filter based on an IP address, a TCP port, and specific protocols. You can easily block the more hacker-prone protocols such as Anonymous FTP, r-utilities, and others with a few simple menu choices. The filtering rules are easy to work with and surprisingly fast to configure.

We tested the dial-in RAS capabilities using both PPP and MPPP (Multilink PPP, which uses several PPP circuits combined into a faster, single whole). Both worked perfectly. The interfaces to the T1 lines worked flawlessly, and network monitoring showed excellent throughput behavior for the Cyclades PR 4000. Throughout our testing period the Cyclades PR 4000 performed without a grumble, and we are impressed with the speed and robustness of the operating system. If you need a RAS solution combined with the ability to couple into a T1 or E1 line for fast Internet or WAN access, the Cyclades PR 4000 is an ideal solution. The ability to manage firewall-like filtering and user access is a bonus in a great RAS.

Cyclades PR 4000
Cyclades Corporation
41934 Christy Street
CA 94538
510-770-0355 fax

Summary: A fast, configurable RAS and T1/E1 solution in a single box. Excellent performance and flexible operating system.