VPN is a network that is constructed by using public wires — usually the Internet — to connect to a private network, such as a company's internal network. There are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the Internet as the medium for transporting data.
What you need to know.
For an organization looking to provide a secured network infrastructure for its client base, a VPN offers two main advantages over alternative technologies: cost savings, and network scalability. To the clients accessing these networks, VPNs also bring some benefits of ease of use.
Cost Savings with a VPN
A VPN can save an organization money in several situations:
- eliminating the need for expensive long-distance leased lines
- reducing long-distance telephone charges
- offloading support costs
VPN Network Scalability
The cost to an organization of building a dedicated private network may be reasonable at first but increases exponentially as the organization grows. A company with two branch offices, for example, can deploy just one dedicated line to connect the two locations, but 4 branch offices require 6 lines to directly connect them to each other, 6 branch offices need 15 lines, and so on.
Internet based VPNs avoid this scalability problem by simply tapping into the the public lines and network capability readily available. Particularly for remote and international locations, an Internet VPN offers superior reach and quality of service.
Using a VPN
To use a VPN, each client must possess the appropriate networking software or hardware support on their local network and computers. When set up properly, VPN solutions are easy to use and sometimes can be made to work automatically as part of network sign on.
VPN technology also works well withWi-Fi local area networking. Some organizations use VPNs to secure wireless connections to their local access points when working inside the office. These solutions provide strong protection without affecting performance excessively.
Limitations of a VPN
Despite their popularity, VPNs are not perfect and limitations exist as is true for any technology. Organizations should consider issues like the below when deploying and using virtual private networks in their operations:
VPNs require detailed understanding of network security issues and careful installation / configuration to ensure sufficient protection on a public network like the Internet.
The reliability and performance of an Internet-based VPN is not under an organization's direct control. Instead, the solution relies on an ISP and their quality of service.
Historically, VPN products and solutions from different vendors have not always been compatible due to issues with VPN technology standards. Attempting to mix and match equipment may cause technical problems, and using equipment from one provider may not give as great a cost savings.