The Rise of Cloud-based Services Fuels Demand for Managed VPNs

The growing popularity of cloud services coupled with security concerns is driving demand for managed VPNs. In particular, the success of public cloud services is gradually encouraging more enterprises to move away from conventional remote network access methods in favor of cloud-based remote access. Providing remote access via the public cloud brings organizations multiple advantages including ease of management, flexibility and lower costs. However, opinions are divided over the level of security it affords. Most users of public cloud services consider security a primary benefit. Yet mistakes can and do happen, leading to high profile consequences.  One aspect of cloud management technology that is not in dispute is its capacity to simplify secure VPN connectivity for large numbers of remote workers.

Growth of Cloud 

Over the past few years, the IT industry has seen slow but steady growth in use of cloud services. A recent report from researchers Bain & Company notes that customers who were initially suspicious of the merits of cloud computing are now readily embracing it.  The average proportion of applications in the cloud in this sector of the market is set to jump from 1% in 2011 to 30% by 2018. Current projections forecast cloud services spending rising from $180 billion in 2015 to $390 billion by 2020.

Success of Public Cloud

Gartner, too, notes how rapid growth in cloud adoption is driving interest in securing data, applications and workloads stored in the public cloud. Public cloud services providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform enable government institutions and private enterprises to use cloud computing technology to expand their IT infrastructure, benefiting from significant economies of scale and resource sharing. In its Hype Cycle for Cloud Security 2017, Gartner describes how the majority of cloud service providers have, for the most part, proved resistant to cyberattacks. Instead, the security weaknesses to emerge thus far have been largely self-inflicted.

Security Concerns

A good example is the recent leak involving four million customer accounts from Time Warner Cable in the United States. Details of customer accounts appeared on the Internet after a freelance contractor did not properly secure an Amazon cloud database. The configuration mistake left a number of AWS S3 data storage units with addresses, contact numbers and account settings completely open to the web. In a similar incident an Instagram API was responsible for leaking user contact information. The high-profile nature of such mistakes simply serves to prolong uncertainty in people’s minds about the reliability of cloud security.

Demand for Cloud Security

Popular perception that cloud security still has some way to go may help explain why the long-term outlook for cloud security remains a healthy one. A new report from Hexa Research forecasts the cloud security market will grow from $1.41 billion in 2016 to reach $12 billion by 2024. Key driving factors behind this growth are the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks and the trend towards using cloud services for data storage. Presently, public cloud services account for around 36% of the market. Hybrid deployments, however, are the fastest-growing segment thanks to the cost savings, enhanced performance and improved security they provide for organizations.

Cloud-based Remote Access

As more and more organizations take advantage of public cloud services they are also evolving their remote access strategies. Conventional remote access has focused on using VPNs to connect with the corporate network over the public Internet via an encrypted tunnel. This method works perfectly well if you want to manage a small number of sites. But as soon as you start to scale up the number of site-to-site VPN tunnels, the deployment costs start to rise. In the past, the cost and complexity of remotely managing hundreds of site-to-site VPNs often resulted in IT departments restricting remote network access to those whose job function demanded it.

Today, however, software-based IPSec or SSL VPNs are bringing down the cost of deployment while cloud management technologies have continued to advance. Now, instead of having to authenticate directly with the network remote users can simply connect with the company’s cloud service of choice – be it Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service or Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Consequently, even traditional remote access is much easier to roll out and manage making the provision of static VPN tunnels for large numbers of remote workers a practical option.

As organizations become more confident about the security and stability of public cloud services, the authentication and management components are moving away from inside the corporate network to the cloud. This allows for a more centralized management experience for company resources – regardless of whether they are privately or publicly hosted.

In summary, the increasing amount of cloud services coupled with security concerns is driving up enterprise demand for managed VPNs. A cloud-based managed VPN is an affordable way to provide secure access to corporate resources for hundreds remote workers wherever they are. Managed VPNs help organizations enjoy a wide range of benefits from enhanced flexibility, greater productivity, cost-savings and protection against customer data security threats.

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