A Closer Look at Cloud VPNs
Virtual Private Networks as a Service (VPNaaS), Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) and Cloud Remote Access are different solutions addressing the same market requirement – the ability for remote employees to securely access corporate networks via the Internet with a managed solution. Many enterprises have realized the benefits of using cloud services in other areas of their IT infrastructure. As a result, they no longer want to absorb the costs and management effort involved in hosting their own VPN gateways, especially ones with large numbers of remote endpoints.
Striking a balance between giving remote employees the flexibility they desire while ensuring sensitive company data remains secure is admittedly a fine line to walk. Enterprises have faced that challenge for several years now as they’ve wrestled with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. Factoring the cloud into the equation only compounds the complexity of the situation. That’s why many companies today are outsourcing the operation of the VPN to a cloud solutions provider such as HOSTING. However, not all VPNs are created equal, and enterprises need to carefully examine what a provider is offering.
What to look for
Be sure the provider offers simple, yet efficient management of your cloud-based VPN. For example, centrally managed VPNs give administrators the ability to easily set up, add or dele
te users as needed. With this approach, all configuration parameters are centrally stored. This approach makes it substantially easier for end users to establish connections while making it nearly impossible for employees to bypass or manipulate them.
Will end users need to reestablish a secure network connection each time their connection channel changes? If the answer is yes, that remote access solution is probably not going to deliver the flexibility that you need. For example, your cloud VPN should make it easy for employees to change from Wi-Fi to 4G connections without stopping to reconfigure their settings each time the medium changes. If the solution is able to support the wide array of operating systems being used by your employees, that’s a major plus. So, too, are integrated personal firewalls that are capable of dynamically adapting to the type of connection the end user is leveraging.
And let’s not forget about the biggest allure to the cloud – cost-savings. Enterprises can save a lot of money by reducing their investments in hardware and software, as well as their specialist headcounts. A cloud VPN enables them to do exactly that. Generally speaking, enterprises pay their cloud VPN providers a low per-user monthly fee. When that is combined with the cloud provider’s in-house staff, the resource savings can be substantial.
Going from “or” to “and”
By leveraging a VPN that offers a centrally managed, flexible and cost-efficient approach, enterprises can better cope with BYOD. The truth is, security and flexibility are not mutually exclusive. It’s not a matter of choosing between the security of a VPN or the flexibility and convenience of the cloud. Cloud VPNs provide enterprises with both the security and flexibility they need to tackle the complex challenges of today’s continuously evolving and increasingly mobile remote access space. Will your organization adapt, or will you be left behind?
**This post originally appeared on HOSTING. NCP engineering is part of the HOSTING Cloud Crew Partner Program.
Patrick Oliver Graf has more than 18 years of technology sector experience in product and project management, marketing and international direct and channel sales. Since September 2011, Patrick has been general manager of secure remote access VPN solution provider NCP engineering.