Cloud VPNs are popular SaaS solutions for businesses that need to enable safe remote access and increase their online security. But, on top of these, cloud VPNs provide additional features, and offer multiple benefits over traditional hardware VPNs.
This article explains what a cloud VPN is, how it works, and who can benefit the most from using one.
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What is a cloud VPN?
Cloud VPN is an IT security solution that provides remote employees secure access to business systems, regardless of their physical or network location.
Cloud VPNs are based on the same principles as traditional hardware VPNs, i.e. tunneling, encryption/decryption, data integrity, etc., but improve on the concept in some key ways.
Typical components of cloud VPNs are the cloud VPN gateway, VPN clients (client apps), and cloud-based web application for central management (aka Control Panel).
- VPN gateway—The cloud VPN gateway is a critical component of a cloud VPN as it is responsible for securely connecting the cloud VPN clients to the company network and apps.
- VPN clients—The VPN clients, also known as client apps, are programs that run on end users’ devices that allow them to securely access the private network.
- Control Panel—Finally, the cloud-based web application, or Control Panel, is the interface used to manage and monitor the cloud VPN. This Control Panel is responsible for configuration, monitoring, and maintenance of the cloud VPN.
How does a cloud VPN work?
A cloud VPN creates a secure connection between clients, systems, and VPN gateway over the internet.
When a user wants to connect to the cloud VPN, they need to be authenticated via username, password, and ideally another authentication factor (MFA). This step also authenticates their device, and is typically facilitated by the client app.
After authentication, the VPN establishes an encrypted tunnel using the configured VPN protocol. The encrypted tunnel ensures data is secure during transit over the internet.
Cloud VPNs also provide additional security measures, such as application-level security (segmentation) or malware and phishing protection.
Benefits of cloud VPN
Unlike traditional hardware VPNs, which run on expensive VPN concentrators, deploying a VPN in the cloud provides several benefits:
- Greater stability — Virtualization makes the VPN more stable and reliable.
- Better user experience — Cloud VPNs run in the datacenter, which means high-speed connections are not limited by network speed, like in the case of hardware VPNs.
- Scalability — The software-defined cloud VPNs allow for much easier increase in speed, user count, or interconnected systems — unlike a hardware VPN, where you are limited by the capabilities of your concentrator.
- Increased security — Cloud VPNs are more secure than on-premise VPNs because it is easier for them to adopt new security features and vulnerability patches.
- Global reach — Cloud VPNs enable you to choose from pre-configured gateways around the globe that are operated by the vendor and allow access to your systems from anywhere and with a device of your choice.
What are the differences between a traditional VPN and a cloud VPN?
Building an enterprise-grade VPN infrastructure, even for just a few teams/departments who need access to critical resources, is a complex task. If it is to provide robust yet secure remote access, you will need additional hardware for:
- Authentication and authorization services
- Accounting/auditing services
- VPN concentrator(s)/gateway(s)
- Redundant configuration
- Reliable and fast internet connection
- Additional hardware in all offices or using costly MPLS or SD-WAN networks.
On the other hand, a cloud VPN simplifies the solution architecture (from the customer point of view), thanks to easy scalability and better cost-efficiency.
You don't need to invest time and money into building and maintaining a VPN infrastructure. All the engineering and administration rests with the provider, and you simply consume the VPN as a service. Thanks to this, it scales with your business, regardless of its size.
Who is a cloud VPN for?
A cloud VPN is for anyone who needs to securely access their network resources and/or applications from a remote location. In particular, cloud VPNs are highly suitable for small businesses that lack the funds and/or skilled staff to build their own VPN infrastructure. For more information about business cloud VPN, read this article.
Companies that benefit from cloud VPNs the most include:
- Remote-friendly businesses — Hybrid work creates a good balance where employees enjoy the freedom of working from anywhere while still maintaining contact with co-workers. A cloud VPN provides inexpensive mobility and security for these employees.
- Cloud-first companies — Lots of companies are moving their systems to the cloud, and a cloud VPN is an excellent solution for providing secure access to SaaS apps or cloud repositories.
- Contractors and outsourcers — Cloud VPNs greatly simplify adding new users and authenticating their devices for access to company systems, which is useful for sharing resources with external companies. Furthermore, you can usually limit the number of systems a user can access to minimize the risk of threat intrusion.
How to deploy a cloud VPN
The GoodAccess cloud VPN is a SaaS solution that offers a full-featured 14-day trial.
To deploy the GoodAccess cloud VPN, create a free account with a business email address. We will then approve your email and clear you to start using your cloud VPN.
Once we’ve approved your account, you will be able to create your team and log in to your Control Panel.
From here, you can invite team members, add systems, add systems, or assign access privileges in just a few clicks.
Cloud VPNs provide secure and cost-effective remote access for businesses of all sizes. They are easy to set up and manage, and require little to no technical knowledge to maintain. Being cloud-delivered, they scale well and excel at securely connecting multiple devices in locations across the globe.