Cloud computing has been around for about a decade – ever since the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, introduced the term to the industry.
Today, it can be considered a mature technology. Companies that use cloud computing services subscribe to IT processing resources and services on-demand over the Internet from cloud services providers.
Despite its undoubted advantages, many organizations still hesitate to wholly embrace cloud services. Concern over remote access security, especially with respect to employees connecting to cloud applications when on the road is a key factor. Remote access cloud services or VPN –as-a-Service (VPNaaS) can help to address this.
Companies stand to gain multiple benefits from incorporating cloud services into their business. For example, there is freedom to quickly scale IT resources up and down in line with changing business circumstances as well as the confidence of knowing you will always be up with the latest technology advances.
Furthermore, leasing cloud services is frequently more cost effective than equivalent in-house deployments. Cloud services are especially appealing to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It often means they have access to greater computing power and more professional IT knowhow than they could afford internally.
Cloud computing can also bring benefits to large organizations. For instance, it presents them with an easy way to move customer services online. Moving large volumes of data also helps them benefit from economies of scale.
A major cause for concern for businesses when considering cloud services is uncertainty whether employee remote access on the move to corporate applications and data will be adequately protected.
Arguably this is not helped by cloud service providers themselves being reluctant to guarantee secure connectivity.
A Ponemon Institute study suggests 69 percent of all cloud service providers regard secure remote access to cloud resources to be the end-user’s responsibility and not theirs.
By far the easiest and most practical way to address this is to deploy company-wide VPN connectivity across all types of network – in-house, cloud or hybrid.
Remote Access Cloud Services
A VPN solution should be chosen for its ability to provide the greatest possible flexibility.
It should include support for the IPsec and SSL Internet security protocols as well as allow for seamless roaming between LAN and Wi-Fi communications channels.
Furthermore, it is essential that the VPN offers IT support staff to centrally manage all clients, users and all other relevant components of the secure connectivity infrastructure.
However, many smaller organizations do not have the wherewithal to establish a company-wide VPN on their own. In such cases they may approach a service provider to take on this task.
Essentially there are two alternatives. One is Virtual Private Network as a Service (VPNaaS); the other is remote access out of the cloud.
Both options are easier for small businesses than doing it for themselves. Cloud VPN services provide a company’s employees with secure access to everything in the cloud – applications, data and storage – from anywhere.
How to Enable a Secure Cloud VPN
It is possible to integrate cloud services into a company network with just site-to-site VPNs.
However, this does not allow for secure remote access from employees using Wi-Fi hotspots or mobile broadband to connect to the corporate network on the move.
Equally, a site-to-site VPN does not guarantee secure connection to Software-as-a-Service platforms or cloud-based storage facilities/processing power from the office.
If this is required, the best way forward is to extend the VPN capabilities into the cloud with a cloud-based remote access or VPN service capable of supporting remote connectivity by devices of all kinds.
In summary, companies requiring remote access connectivity to the corporate network via the cloud need to consider a cloud VPN service that supports everything from desktops to notebooks and tablet PCs to smartphones.
A cloud-based VPN service assures secure access at all times from any location, helping organizations to enjoy all the applications’ flexibility and lower infrastructure costs associated with cloud services with none of the security risks.