What is VPN as a Service (VPNaaS)?
A Guide to Cloud-Based VPNs
VPNaaS stands for Virtual Private Network as a Service. It is a cloud-based networking service that provides businesses and organizations with secure and private access to the internet or other network resources. VPNaaS allows users to securely connect to a remote network over the internet. It is a subscription-based service that can be easily managed and scaled by the provider.
VPNaaS providers offer a variety of features and options, including different protocols (such as OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP), encryption methods, access control, and traffic monitoring. VPNaaS is especially useful for companies that have remote workers, as it allows employees to access company resources securely from anywhere in the world. It can also be used by individuals who want to protect their online privacy and security while browsing the internet.
VPNaaS offers several benefits over traditional VPN solutions, such as:
VPNaaS provides an added layer of security for remote access to networks, as all traffic is encrypted and travels through a secure tunnel.
VPNaaS is highly scalable and can accommodate a large number of users, making it ideal for businesses with remote workers or distributed teams.
VPNaaS is often more cost-effective than traditional VPN solutions since businesses only pay for the service they need, not having to purchase, deploy, and maintain their own VPN infrastructure.
VPNaaS is accessed using a simple internet connection, making it easy for workers to access their organization’s networks and applications from any location.
Does VPNaaS require a client or agent?
For most, the answer is yes. While clientless or agentless options are available, most are limited in functionality when compared to their client- and agent-based counterparts. Clients and agents can be installed in a number of ways from manually by the end user to completely automated using Unified Endpoint Management (UEM).
Here’s a high-level overview of how VPNaaS works:
User initiates a VPN connection
The user opens a VPN client on their device and connects to a remote VPN server. Their credentials are authenticated, and certain authorization is granted. The user’s system is given a tunneled IP address.
Encryption and tunneling
Once connected, the VPN client and server negotiate an encryption protocol to secure the connection. The VPN client then encapsulates all network traffic in a secure “tunnel” and sends it to the VPN server.
Access to resources
The VPN server receives the encrypted tunnel traffic, and forwards it to the destination on the remote network. The user can now access resources on the remote network as if they were physically connected to it.
Does VPNaaS require all traffic to be tunneled?
No. Ideally, only traffic that is destined to an internal resource, traffic that is destinated to a SaaS application that has source IP validation configured, or traffic that needs to be further inspected by an on-premises security stack should be sent over the tunnel. Advanced VPNaaS allows for split-tunneling which is done the hard way, using IP-based split-tunneling, or the easier way, using domain-based split-tunneling.
Why is VPNaaS better than legacy VPN appliances?
VPNaaS has several advantages over legacy VPN appliances, including:
- Cost-effectiveness: VPNaaS is typically offered as a subscription-based service, which means you only pay for what you use, making it more cost-effective than purchasing and maintaining your own VPN appliances. Organizations also do not need to buy, rack, stack, power, cool, and manage physical appliances.
- Scalability: With VPNaaS, you can easily scale up or down based on your business needs, without having to invest in new hardware or software.
- Easy management: VPNaaS providers take care of the maintenance and updates of the VPN infrastructure, making it easier for IT teams to manage the service without worrying about hardware and software maintenance.
- Accessibility: VPNaaS allows users to access the VPN from anywhere, at any time, using a variety of devices. This is especially important for companies with remote workers who need access to the company network from different locations.
- Security: VPNaaS providers often offer advanced security features, such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and intrusion detection, which can be difficult and expensive to implement with legacy VPN appliances.
Overall, VPNaaS offers more flexibility, accessibility, and security than legacy VPN appliances, making it a more attractive option for modern businesses.
Can VPNaaS co-exist with a legacy VPN?
Possibly, but it’s not recommended but many reasons. First, the clients and virtual interfaces may have conflicts which will lead to many calls to the IT helpdesk. Second, trying to figure out IP addresses for the many remote networks may cause issues which introduce security concerns. Lastly, trying to use the legacy VPN and VPNaaS creates confusion for end users trying to figure out which client to use for which resource. The recommendation is to migrate one group of users at a time from the legacy VPN to the VPNaaS, until ultimately, you are able to take the legacy VPN out of service.