Seven Free or Low-Cost RADIUS Servers for Your Enterprise Network

If you want to bring your existing identity services to your mobile users, these RADIUS servers can do it for very little money.

By Jabez Gan | Posted Dec 16, 2010
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If you're a network administrator at any large, security-conscious organization, you've got identity management implemented for your wired endpoints. What if you want to extend this beyond your wired infrastructure, to your wireless clients? That's where a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server comes in: Your wireless access points will act as RADIUS clients, giving your users access to your network with their existing identities. If you haven't implemented RADIUS yet, here's how it works:

  1. Wireless devices connect to a wireless access point using a RADIUS client.
  2. The RADIUS client requests a set of credentials from the user.
  3. When the user types in the username and password, the RADIUS client passes the credentials to the RADIUS server
  4. The RADIUS server will apply network policies and pass the credentials to the identity management server, e.g.Active Directory Domain Services.
  5. The identity management server passes back the authorization to the RADIUS server.
  6. The RADIUS server confirms network connection with the client.
  7. The RADIUS client connects the mobile device's wireless adapter to the network.

Figure 1 shows how these infrastructures communicate with one another using Microsoft's technologies.

RADIUS clients communicating with a network

RADIUS server options

If you are new to RADIUS and just getting started on researching the right RADIUS server for your environment, you might be surprised at the many software offerings available. To help you get your bearings, I've selected some of the most used RADIUS servers.

No-Cost RADIUS servers

FreeRADIUS

Since they're working on the most widely used free RADIUS server, the developers of FreeRADIUS software have extra motivation to enhance the software constantly. Updates come out every few months, ensuring that users are not only getting the basic features of a RADIUS server, but also commercial-grade security features as well.

FreeRadius can integrate with Active Directory and Novell eDirectory for identity management, and is a good option if Internet Authentication Server (IAS) -- found in Windows Server 2003 or Network Policy Server (NPS) in Windows Server 2008 -- is not good enough for you.

Available for Linux/Unix only.

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