IT Simplified: Virtual Private Networks

VPNs or Virtual private networks are essential additions to organizational networks that allow companies of any size to easily and safely access their resources, whether they’re hosted locally or in the cloud. The primary purpose of an enterprise VPN is to fortify these sensitive assets and resources – which might include internal customer and sales systems, SaaS applications, and local file storage for employees who are now accessing them from many different devices and on unfamiliar (and potentially unsafe) Wi-Fi connections.

With seamless integration of the most commonly used solutions, like Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, and even Google’s G Suite , the best enterprise VPNs offer growing organizations a scalable, simple way to build a low-latency secure remote office. Employees are free to connect to the tools necessary for their roles whenever and however they like, simply by logging into their enterprise’s VPN solution via a web, desktop, or mobile app before being granted access. Afterwards, the encrypted tunnel created between their chosen device and the network allows them to browse the web and work safely.

What is the Difference Between an Enterprise VPN and a Self-Hosted VPN?

Virtual Private Networks have come a long way since their introduction to the market nearly 30 years ago, when Peer-to-Peer Tunneling Protocol was first invented. Now, enterprises take advantage of the same basic concepts but have begun to consume this utility as a service, rather than being required to install VPN hardware on-site before seeing value. This transformation is a weight off IT teams’ shoulders, as they can easily integrate a complete enterprise VPN service across their entire network without messy installation, configuration, or expensive hardware upkeep. Onboarding, management, and network visibility are easy with a single admin panel, and the VPN provider is responsible for all patching and maintenance.

This new reality has freed up IT teams and enabled them to focus on tasks that are more productive, and IT managers have accordingly found enterprise VPN solutions a crucial cost-cutting tool as well. By hosting their organization’s VPN with a high-quality third party provider, an organization’s CTO can budget for his or her team easily and expect a stable, secure, and low-latency experience for remote workers. With a predictable subscription-based model, transparency about what kind of hardware the provider uses and where it resides geographically, and what the logging policy is, it’s easy to predict a specific quality of service.

Though it’s true that some organizations might still prefer self-hosted VPNs, given that despite their high costs these VPN solutions do provide greater control, the variety and quality of modern enterprise VPNs matches alternatives in every regard. In the best enterprise VPN examples, clients can anticipate a dedicated, highly qualified support staff and a global array of server nodes that mean faster connections anywhere. They’ll also have granular level details of hardware performance and the types of encryption provided, not to mention an enterprise VPN that is infinitely more scalable than if it were self-hosted. For organizations that are growing, this concern is top-of-mind.

How Does an Enterprise VPN Work?

Enterprise VPNs grant the employees of an organization secure access to its vital resources: cloud-based SaaS applications, files and data storage, and more. All employees need to do to gain network access is open their enterprise VPN application on their computer’s desktop, through the web, or via their smartphone or tablet. Afterwards, the VPN establishes a secure connection using site-to-site Internet Protocol security (IPsec), which resides on Layer 3 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. IPsec works for both remote-access and network-to-network deployments to spin up encrypted tunnels between peers sending data to one another.

On Internet Protocol (IP) networks, cryptographically-secure IPSec security keys create a protocol for clients to mutually authenticate their communications both at the beginning of and during a session. By relying on this idea, cloud VPNs, enterprise VPNs, and VPNaaS enable two networks to be connected as if by a hardware router. IT managers are also able to delineate specific rules and network policies across local and cloud environments, and this is accomplished more easily through the client rather than time-intensive configuration.

The abundance of remote workers, devices, and improperly secured public Wi-Fi sources creates further gaps in network security. The only way to combat the risks that occur when an employee works from a cafe, for example, is to rely on user-centric security solutions rather than perimeter-centric ones. Enterprise VPNs put the focus back on the users navigating through a network, and do away with the idea that once someone has access, they’re trusted with each and every resource they can get their hands on.

Parting ways with the notion of security, enterprise VPNs are also lauded for their cost-efficacy and ability to boost productivity. Enterprise VPNs offered as a service offer seamless onboarding, omnipresent network visibility, lower latency, and other more favorable benefits in terms of scalability. When it comes down to brass tacks, the migration from a traditional VPN solution to an enterprise VPN is a foundational step in instituting a hard-liner, agile network security policy for the company.

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