What’s a VPN and Do We Need One?

If you’re considering your need for a VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, the first condition you should consider is if your company has a business need for a VPN. Do you have multiple branch offices spread out geographically? Do your employees remote in or need to access your company’s network outside of the office? If you answered yes to either question, a VPN could be a value-added feature to discuss. However, like all things, there are pros and cons to setting up a VPN.

What is a Virtual Private Network?

A virtual private network, VPN for short, is a secure connection that allows you to extend your private network across a public network to connect geographically distant facilities. A VPN is often thought of like a tunnel between your remote computer and server on the VPN. This tunnel allows your employees a point-to-point connection to securely access your company’s corporate Intranet from outside of the office.  Secure access VPNs are ideal for employees on the road or working from home.

The Pros and Cons of Using a VPN

If your company is considering setting up a VPN for your remote workers and road warriors, here are some of the pros and cons associated with setting up a VPN.

Security

Pro – A virtual private network offers a high level of security when compared to other remote communication options due to the advanced security technologies used to prevent unauthorized access to the private network.

Con – Designing, securing, implementing, and maintaining a virtual private network is a specialized task and can be a complex undertaking. You need a skilled IT professional with a solid foundation for network configuration. Also, if you don’t have the right security measured built into your LAN network, or home network, all the extra authentication techniques used by a VPN a useless.

Con – Another big security flag is wireless broadband connections. Your company may want to deploy a VPN for mobile users on the go who have to access the private network via a wireless connection. Additional security protocols must be added to ensure these connections are always safe and secure.

Cost

Pro – The cost of operating a virtual private network for your remote employees and possible for small satellite branches are significantly lower than other types of configurations that use the Ethernet to set up wide area networks (WAN) in a seamless point-to-point connection.

Con – VPNs are notorious for their network slowdowns. Reliability can also be a factor due to your Internet Service Provider and how far away your VPN servers are geographically. You may have to increase your bandwidth to handle the new access options.

Scalability

Pro – A virtual private network is extremely flexible as your company grows and you employees move around. New remote access does not require new infrastructure or equipment, just the user’s ability to access the public Internet. This makes the VPN an excellent choice for rapid growth and low costs.

Con – As your company continues to grow you may have to expand your satellite offices or grow new ones. In these cases, you will have to invest in new infrastructure and equipment, which may not always be compatible with your current technologies. Like everything else, strategic planning and development is key to successful growth.

Virtual private networks are excellent options for increased flexibility for your remote workers, road warriors, and small satellite branches. Rather than setting up your own VPN, a unified communications service provider offering VPN services may be able to help you and manage the tunnel for you. A good unified communications provider will also grow with you as your business expands and business needs change.

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