The new normal and a by-product of today’s devastating pandemic is the exponential rise in remote work. As more and more companies adjust to employees working from home, the need for implementing a cloud VPN solution is beginning to take center stage.
But what is cloud VPN?
And how does this tech differ from traditional VPN services? Also, what makes it tick? What benefits do companies stand to gain from it? Lastly, are there any drawbacks?
In this complete cloud VPN guide, I will elaborate on all there is to know about this service. When done reading, you should be more apt to decide whether or not your business is ready to transition to this solution.
What Is Cloud VPN
A cloud VPN service is a virtual private network (VPN) that allows employees to access company’s files, data, and other resources stored on the cloud. It is also known as hosted VPN or VPN as a service (VPNaaS).
A VPN is a tool that creates an encrypted tunnel between a device and remote servers. It connects users to the internet or a company’s internal network.
Legacy business VPNs work slightly differently from those used by individuals. They help organizations provide remote employees access to their networks. In other words, they provide a secure link between remote staff and company resources.
The reason why this is needed is simple –
When employees are present on-site, they can easily connect their devices to a company’s internal network.
It’s not so simple when they work remotely. Connecting over a public internet network comes with an inherent risk to third-party exposure and data leak.
However, emerging cloud services coupled with the dramatic rise in remote work revealed drawbacks of traditional VPNs — especially with more companies moving to the cloud.
For one, traditional VPNs take ages to set up, sometimes running into months. In addition, they are pretty static; once deployed, it takes a ton of effort to carry out significant tweaks.
A viable alternative is what cloud VPN is!
How Does a Cloud VPN Work?
The deployment of cloud infrastructure by companies provides the framework for a shift from traditional VPN.
Now, businesses no longer have to put so much time, money, and effort into setting up and maintaining VPN infrastructure.
The primary functions of cloud VPN services are providing security for cloud resources, encryption of transmitted data, and enabling employee access to said resources.
The connection between the user and network resources involves a network access server (NAS) and VPN client software.
Cloud VPNs enable secure connections between users and private networks using Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). This network protocol creates a secure tunnel for encrypted data to pass between the VPN gateway and a private network.
As with traditional VPNs, this ensures that only authorized parties connect to the private network.
Cloud VPN providers offer the necessary network infrastructure. Ultimately, though, it rests on the end-user to secure access.
With the infrastructure and encrypting protocol in place, employees can connect to the cloud VPN to remotely access the company’s network resources. This can be done using smartphones or computers and even with multiple devices. Also, there are no time constraints — around-the-clock access.
Cloud VPN Types
There are two types of cloud VPN solutions, with the key differences lying in their architecture and uses.
Remote Access Cloud VPNs
Remote access is essential for employees who work off-site. This type of cloud VPN allows distant workers to access a company’s internal network from wherever they can connect.
The combination of a network access server and the cloud VPN app installed on the user’s device ensures secure remote access to a private network.
Site-to-site Cloud VPN
Using a tunneling protocol, users can rely on a secure connection between the on-site and cloud networks. This is ideal for businesses wanting an encrypted link between their physical networks and cloud resources.
It works best for companies with offices located in different regions. And basically, the traffic between the various sites becomes a single network.
In contrast to remote access cloud VPNs, the VPN client is not installed on users’ devices but instead on the different local networks.
In a cloud VPN vs. traditional VPN contest, the latter loses out. Here’s why:
Access From Anywhere
With a cloud VPN, employees can securely access the company’s resources, such as files, databases, and applications from anywhere in the world.
This makes it the perfect solution for companies with staff spread throughout the world.
Cloud computing is growing at an epic rate, with projections to snowball even faster in the future. This means that more companies are implementing cloud applications and services while operating their companies.
Effectively, the traditional VPN is well on its way to becoming obsolete.
On the other hand, a cloud VPN service offers seamless compatibility with business applications and tools based in the cloud.
Traditional VPNs have limitations, including network latency for cloud-based resources. This is often a result due to the physical distances between remote workers and the primary network.
This latency drags down connection performance with lags. The traffic routing through the main network is the cause of this issue.
In contrast, a VPN hosted in the cloud offers direct remote access to the main network, resulting in improved performance.
Flexibility and Scalability
Traditional VPNs are challenging to set up, and once completed, they are considered virtually permanent. With a fixed number of connections, bandwidth, and other static factors, VPNs are complicated to tweak or scale.
As a result, changes in technology or the number of users can present significant issues to a company.
This problem does not exist on nearly the same scale for a cloud-based VPN. They are more flexible and easily adaptable to various changes.
Disadvantages of Cloud VPN
Cloud VPN solutions offer several advantages to businesses in the 21st century. But this does not mean that there are no cons to note.
Cloud VPNs come with solid security features. With that said, every end-user plays a vital role in ensuring that the company’s network resources are kept safe.
How so, you ask?
Well, if a malicious actor gains access to VPN client software on a user’s smartphone or computer, then this third party has all the network’s resources at their fingertips.
So, is cloud VPN safe?
Not entirely. Because access point security is up to each user, a compromised individual can lead to data breaches and other security risks.
The increased use of cloud computing services in today’s business environment and the pandemic induced rise in remote work leads to more companies considering cloud-based VPN solutions.
Because it offers many more benefits than a regular business VPN, more companies are now deploying cloud VPN to assist remote employees in securing access to vital work resources. Expectations for the cloud VPN market to experience substantial growth in the near future are no surprise.
Now you know what a cloud VPN is, how it works, and its pros and cons –
Do you think it’s time to upgrade your business to this cloud solution?