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What is a Cloud VPN?

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a solution designed to provide encrypted connectivity between a remote worker or site, and the enterprise network. Cloud VPNs enable organizations to transition their VPN hosting to the cloud, to improve access to their existing cloud-based resources.

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What is a Cloud VPN?

The Rise of Cloud VPN

Remote secure access VPNs are designed to provide a secure connection between a teleworker and the enterprise network. The organization hosts a VPN endpoint on the enterprise network, and remote workers can establish a secure connection to this endpoint and gain access to the corporate network.

 

However, the dramatic rise in telework driven by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the limitations of traditional site VPNs. Many organizations discovered that their existing VPN solutions were unable to meet the needs of a mostly or wholly remote workforce. Hardware VPN appliances were overwhelmed, and the inefficient routing of cloud-bound traffic through the headquarters network increased network latency.

 

As organizations increasingly move their infrastructure to the cloud, it makes sense to transition their VPN solutions to the cloud as well. Cloud VPNs are available in a number of different form factors and provide several benefits compared to traditional site VPNs.

Types of Cloud VPNs

Just like an organization can lease different types of cloud-based infrastructure – such as Software as a Service (SaaS) vs. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – different cloud VPN offerings are available as well.

 

A main differentiator between the types of cloud VPNs available is the purpose of the VPN:

 

  • Remote Access: As mentioned earlier, the rise of telework has made secure remote access a major priority for businesses. VPN as a Service (VPNaaS) is a cloud VPN solution for these remote workers. Teleworkers will install VPN software on their computer or mobile device and use it to connect to the cloud VPN service. From there, it can be routed to the appropriate SaaS application or other cloud resource. VPNaaS is valuable because it provides user authentication for cloud-based resources and a secure, encrypted connection between teleworkers and the cloud.
  • Site-to-Site Connections: As enterprises become increasingly reliant on cloud technology, a secure, encrypted tunnel between the enterprise network and the cloud makes sense. This use case differs from a remote access VPN because a physical VPN appliance is deployed on-site on the enterprise network. This VPN appliance connects to a virtualized endpoint in the cloud, creating an encrypted tunnel between the on-premises and cloud networks. This secures all traffic between the two networks and enables them to be treated as a single, physically connected network (i.e. no use of public-facing IP addresses).

Main Benefits of Cloud VPN

Cloud VPN enables an organization’s VPN infrastructure to take advantage of the same cloud benefits as other cloud-hosted applications and resources. Some of the primary benefits of cloud VPN include:

 

  • Direct Cloud Access: Over time, organizations have become increasingly reliant on cloud-based applications and data storage. Traditional VPNs, which route all traffic through the headquarters network, increase network latency for cloud-based resources. A cloud VPN provides direct, secure remote access to the organization’s cloud deployment.
  • Global Accessibility: Hardware VPNs can only be deployed within corporate networks, limiting their geographic footprint and increasing network latency for a distributed workforce. VPNs hosted in the cloud are globally accessible, providing improved network access and performance.
  • Flexibility: Traditional VPNs can be difficult to set up and configure, meaning that they often adapt slowly to changing network architecture and requirements. A cloud-based VPN is managed by the cloud service provider and provides greater flexibility and usability.
  • Scalability: Traditional hardware VPNs have a set maximum number of connections or bandwidth that they can support, limiting their ability to scale to meet increased demand. Cloud-based VPNs – like any cloud-based solution – scale more easily, enabling an organization to increase or decrease VPN user counts and bandwidth as needed.
  • Mobile Support: Corporate VPN software is often difficult to use on mobile devices, which are increasingly favored by remote workers. Cloud VPN solutions often include explicit mobile support to provide better usability for these remote workers.

Deploying Cloud-Based Secure Remote Access

As many organizations are planning to support extended or permanent telework programs, it is necessary to invest in the secure remote access solutions required to ensure that remote workers can operate effectively and securely.

 

With a growing number of off-site workers and cloud-based resources, routing all business traffic through the enterprise network no longer makes sense. Cloud VPNs provide a number of advantages compared to traditional, hardware VPNs.

 

Check Point offers a wide range of secure remote access solutions. To learn more about the available solutions and their benefits, check out this webinar. You’re also welcome to request a demo to see how Check Point Harmony Connect can help to support and secure your remote workforce.

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