For many technical folks, setting up a basic VPN is trivial, especially a simple one. For many small businesses that are facing the need to enable remote working while much of the world is practicing social distancing, getting a solution up-and-running can be a challenge. Through the end of May 2020, the Netgate and pfSense team are offering help getting small businesses, first responders, healthcare providers, and non-profits up and running so they can transition to working remotely.
Netgate Offering Free pfSense VPN Relief for Remote Working
Here is an excerpt from the official statement from Netgate on their changes:
In an effort to extend as much help as possible, four changes to our support offerings are instituted:
- Free “zero to ping” support for anyone running pfSense software
- Free VPN configuration and connection support for small businesses, healthcare providers, and not-for-profit organizations
- pfSense TAC support subscription prices are now offered at reduced subscription rates
- Direct First Responder / Front Line Healthcare Professional Service
Details on each of the above service offers can be found in our blog post here. (Source: Netgate)
The first one is that Netgate support will respond to tickets helping users get up and running pfSense software. It sounds like this is being done on an as they can get to it basis so do not expect a reply in 15 minutes, but that is a big step offering this kind of support to anyone, not just paying customers. Of course, we would caution STH readers not to abuse this one and there are many guides for pfSense that you can find online.
The second one is similar to the first but for small businesses, healthcare providers, and non-profits, Netgate is helping with free VPN setup. Many of these organizations need access to their on-site IT infrastructure even for workers who have to transition to working remotely. Using an open-source, free VPN is a fairly simple way to make that happen yet not everyone can configure a pfSense VPN even with the solution’s VPN wizards. This is going to be one that will be a big help to these organizations that may not be ready for this change of working environment.
On the TAC business assurance, Bundled and unbundled Professional TAC support are being discounted from $588 and $948 per year respectively to $399 per year. Bundled and unbundled Enterprise TAC support are reduced from $1,788 and $2,148 per year respectively to $799 per year. If you do need or want a paid support option, this is a way to do that a lot less expensively than had been offered previously. If you were on the fence about getting a support contract, this seems like a prime opportunity.
For first responders and frontline healthcare workers, Netgate is committing to doing what they can to help on a case-by-case basis.
Netgate itself is a small business but it is taking steps to help others in a time when there are a lot of headwinds. For that, we need to applaud the efforts. If you had been thinking about getting a TAC subscription, the discounts are fairly large and probably worthwhile. For others, just getting pfSense set up with a free VPN solution can be a huge help for adjusting an operating environment to a work-from-home mentality. Of course, STH has reviews of pfSense/ Netgate firewalls such as our Netgate SG-5100 review and a number of other pieces to get you started in the pfSense ecosystem.
I’d honestly consider this. At home I have no issues with setting up pfSense, but at work we could use another VPN endpoint and it would have to sit behind Meraki firewall, so routing would be “fun” to configure.
This offer should prove interesting.
Netgate might learn a lot about the types of hardware that people will attempt an installation. Granted, people ought to check the required minimum hardware specs for the software, but how many actually do that?
Then there is the issue of BSD hardware support sometimes lagging comparable Linux distributions. That would be a concern to me, at least that was my past experience with FreeBSD and why I stayed with Linux.