VPN Functions and Design
VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a private data network that uses already established telecommunication infrastructures like the Internet so that authorized users can communicate with each other safely and privately without dialing directly to the company network. Therefore, roles and duties can still operate and projects and collaborations can still run smoothly wherever offices and users are, however far they are from each other, and whenever they deem necessary. VPN technology uses special security protocol and procedures installed in its design called “tunneling” for data to remain private even when it passes through the Internet. Basically, we see VPN as a “tunnel” we can pass through the chaos that is the World Wide Web. Although it has many advantages over the traditional dial-in access, privacy and security is its most appealing function to its users. Access rights are designed according to the authorized user’s or network’s needs, corporate network boundaries become as limitless as the technology, and it is quite cost-effective.
Functions and Design of a VPN Technology
Some of the functions of a VPN have already been mentioned above, like:
- A VPN provides network connectivity over time and distances. A VPN is actually a form of WAN (Wide Area Network), and that is why it is attractive to companies and institutions which have evolved through the years and needed telecommunication for versatility and better productivity. Most companies and institutions have branches or offices located in other states or abroad, as well as employees and members who travel or live from across the country or the globe. The use of a VPN can easily be very advantageous to them, especially upon consideration of its other useful functions.
- A VPN provides privacy and security as it passes through a public network like the Internet. Actually, VPNs can pass through both private and public networks. When passing through the Internet, it uses “tunneling” to protect data. In fact, privacy and security are the main considerations in a VPN’s design because it is a shared-access and routed network. Without it, a VPN would lose its appeal. The use of encryption, secure key exchange/re-keying, session and per-packet authentication, security negotiation, private address space confidentiality, complex filtering, and other precautions were deemed as strictly mandatory to successfully gain access.
Other Functions of VPN Technology according to type of VPN
- A VPN can be installed to sustain remote access over the Internet to corporate/institution offices. In this day and age, increased mobility generate increased telecommunication needs between individuals and offices, so many organizations and companies use internet VPNs for internal communication with their members in place of dial-up remote access. This method is less expensive and can function as well as dial-up. Internet VPNs are designed as a client/server wherein a remote host needing to log into the company/organization network first connects to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to initiate a VPN connection to the company VPN server via a VPN client installed on the remote host. Remote hosts can be laptop computers with modems, desktop computers with modems or ISDN connections, and laptop computers on a shared LAN like in hotels. Afterwards, the remote client can navigate through the internal company system like it was a local host.
- A VPN can be used as a means for a network to connect to another network. An entire remote network (private) and not just a single remote network can securely join another remote network (also private) to become an extended intranet using VPN server to VPN server connection. Intranet VPNs are sometimes referred to as site-to-site or LAN-to-LAN VPNs. An example of this function is branch office networking, where branch office networks within an organization connect to each other using VPN servers. Intranet VPNs can be employed by any kind of private network sites: small office/home office sites (SOHO), branch sites, central sites, or enterprise sites. In Intranet VPNs, long-distance leased lines are replaced with local ISP connection to the Internet, or secure Frame Relay or ATM connections in Intranet VPNs.
- A VPN can also be used to allow secure connections between business partners, suppliers and customers for easier and flexible e-commerce; or between institution sites for educational purposes or information sharing. Extranet VPN is an extension of non-member networks or a mapped network of authorized Intranet VPNs over the Internet. They allow each other access to their networks but only to selected services without opening up their entire systems. These networks, of course, have to use additional firewall to protect their internal system, are not accessible to general Internet users in the web, and are managed by more than one administrator (companies or institutions). An Intranet VPN is different because it is managed by one owner (company or institution) only. Companies (i.e. business/service companies) and institutions (i.e. universities or military) are not the only ones making much use of Extranet VPNs. Industries under construction, graphic designing, IT consulting, engineering, and others use Extranet VPNs to help them in long-distance project collaborations and other purposes that help much in their employment and productivity.
Although there is still much to learn about the technicalities of putting up VPN technology, there is no denying how much it has been helping businesses in their tactical planning to better compete and profit, while institutions get more ambitious in their projects and processes because of the aid of VPN Technology. Your understanding of VPN and its functions can help so much in your choice of how to utilize VPN technology so that your company can benefit the same way others did.