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Understanding VPN - Advantages and Benefits Part 1

written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 1/27/2010

This article looks at the main benefits of VPNs. Virtual Private Networks gives an organization the advantage to create secure channels of communication,while at the same time reducing costs, improving security, increasing performance and providing greater access to remote users.

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    A VPN (Virtual Private Network) presents an organization with significant benefits and advantages in allowing it to create secure channels of communication across public networks for its users and devices. A VPN can exist on top of virtually any existing data service standard; this channel is sometimes referred to as a VPN Tunnel.

    VPNs are incredible flexible in respect to the data transmission technologies that are supported. A VPN can be configured on top of T1 lines, DSL, cable lines, regular phone lines and even WIFI. All of this happens without the user being aware of the technology or data backbone that is being used. As a matter of fact, a combination of these technologies is often used depending on cost, reliability of the technology and the performance requirements or the organization. Here is a summary of some of the advantages and benefits of VPN.

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    Reduced Costs

    While dedicated circuits and leased lines are usually very reliable, they can be quite expensive. A benefit of a VPN is that it can save an enterprise more than 50% off its data service costs by employing a less costly telecommunications solution, such as ADSL.

    Managed VPN solution service providers can also help organizations save money by routing the data of several organization over the same data lines, or help enterprises to leverage the expertise of the provider's staff to alleviate additional overhead expenses. Some managed VPN service providers can also offer a fully managed, 24/7 monitoring solution to provide additional security and visibility to how the network is being managed.

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    Improved Security

    The use of encryption protocols and authentication helps secure the data that is traveling over the VPN channel. If the VPN is properly implemented there should be little or no impact on the network’s performance. In fact, the network’s performance may actually improve, depending on the data services that are being used.

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    Better Performance

    Owing to the fact that more high capacity data service options can be used, the bandwidth and efficiency of the network generally increases after a VPN solution is installed.

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    Improved Scalability

    It is often expensive and time consuming to upgrade a network and add new sites, especially when legacy systems are present, but a VPN can be used to mix legacy systems with new technologies, as additional capacity is required. A VPN is not limited in the type of network technologies and topologies it can support, in fact it can be installed over a variety of network architecture and be configured or re-configured as the network grows.

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    Flexibility and Reliability

    Most businesses have no shortage of connection options available to them. The widespread availability of WWAN, DSL and other broadband options gives enterprises multiple ways to securely interconnect network users over a VPN. Another benefit of VPN is that it gives an organization the advantage to use virtually any data service option, as cost and availability dictate.

    VPNs can also improve the reliability of a company’s data services by using data services from several independent carriers and bonding them into one seamless data channel. This removes the dependency on any single network carrier to provide service to any part of the network. The ability to improve the reliability of the data services is a significant benefit of VPNs that many telecommunications experts appreciate. In order to optimize security, a VPN option also enables the use of multiple carriers within the same network solution, while using cryptographic algorithms to ensure the security of the data while it is in transit.

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    Greater Access to Mobile Users

    The users that benefit the most from VPN facilities are telecommuters. Considering the fact that so many workers now work from home or spend a significant amount of their time on business trips, being able to connect to the company’s servers to access emails and company data is a tremendous convenience and productivity advantage.

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    One of the biggest benefits of a VPN solution is cost efficiency. For years companies have used expensive leased lines and other dedicated network technologies that have limited bandwidth. VPNs provide greater flexibility to choose the most cost effective, high performance technology that best suits the current performance and security needs of organizations. The data services costs can also be cut by reducing the number of single access leased lines and put all the network traffic onto cheaper data lines. The communications channel can then be secured with VPN security protocols such as IPSec and SSL.