Remote Access vs VPN

Understanding Remote Access and VPN Security

Remote access and VPN are often synonymously used when discussing remote access to IT systems and services. This is understandable as both facilitate remote working, and the use of VPNs has been very popular when delivering remote working capabilities. However, they are not the same thing.

VPNs are Different from Remote Access

VPNs differ from RDP in that the latter connects to a specific device or virtual machine.  When a remote user connects with a VPN, they get a secure tunnel connection to the network as if they were physically at the remote network location and connected directly. This means they have remote access to all of the IT services and applications they would have in the office but over a secure internet tunnel. So, a VPN is also a way to provide remote access. It has pros and cons. 

On the plus side, users get secure access from anywhere they have an Internet connection. At the same time, IT systems administrators can control, monitor, and log this remote VPN connectivity for security, auditing, and planning purposes.

Limitations of Traditional VPNs

VPNs are very popular for delivering remote network access. However, the hybrid working landscape that is now common was not a consideration when many VPN solutions were designed and deployed. As a result, multiple limitations of traditional VPN solutions often combine to deliver a poor user experience for remote workers. For example:

Wireless networks and wired home internet broadband can have insufficient useable bandwidth for good VPN connectivity. This is often due to network contention on the local loop, and contention for the airwaves that wireless networks use resulting in poor connectivity throughout the day, especially as remote working has become more common.

Legacy hardware-based VPN remote access systems present challenges in the new and rapidly expanding remote working landscape.  These challenges include:

  • Complexity - Configuring and managing hardware-based VPN appliances can be complex, particularly in large or complicated networks, and may require additional IT resources and expertise.
  • Costs - Investing in additional hardware appliances to scale a hardware-based VPN solution can be expensive, including the cost of purchasing new devices and accounting for ongoing maintenance and support costs.
  • Hardware limitations - As the number of remote users using a hardware-based VPN solution increases, the capacity for concurrent connections also becomes limited. When the existing hardware is overburdened, it may struggle to handle the additional load, resulting in performance degradation or connection failures.

Scaling a hardware-based VPN remote access solution requires careful planning and consideration of factors like hardware capacity, cost, network infrastructure, security, and user experience and this is why VPNs are so different from ZTNA.

Traditional VPNs often also have limitations due to the security protocols added to the connection setup and traffic flows. These protocols, while necessary for security purposes, can cause delays that negatively affect the user experience. As a result, users may experience slower applications, frustration, and decreased productivity.

HAaaS as a VPN Alternative

Cloudbrink Hybrid Access-as-a-Service (HAaaS) is a solution designed and built from the ground up to address and overcome the limitations of VPN and other legacy remote access solutions. HAaaS provides cutting-edge connectivity for the modern hybrid workforce, irrespective of user location. Using AI and ML technology, HAaaS delivers hybrid access optimized for edge-native performance. Users connecting via Cloudbrink can enjoy lightning-fast speeds for cloud, SaaS, and data center applications. 

By utilizing thousands of dynamic points of presence called FAST edges in Cloud datacenters around the globe, Cloudbrink delivers an in-office equivalent experience with a 30x increase in application performance for remote workers. Best of all, this powerful experience is easy to manage by network, security, and IT administrators, with simplified operations across the board. 

Additionally, the software-only solution includes the world's first high-performance ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access), as well as personal SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) and Automated Moving Target Defense (AMTD) security for hybrid and fully remote users. 

Bottom line: Cloudbrink delivers in-office performance and security for anyone, anywhere. Providing an experience for remote workers that increases productivity and reduces the stress levels associated with trying to work via a poor network connection

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