Evaluating VPNs for Mobile Environments

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1 Evaluating VPNs for Mobile Environments Guidelines for Comparing Conventional MOBILITY. UNCOMPROMISED.

2 High-speed, publicly available wireless networks have dramatically changed the remote access landscape and are ideally suited for things like checking , catching up on Facebook, playing games online and browsing the web. Apps like these do not require commercial-grade security and only need intermittent access to the network, so the normal variation in coverage and signal strength common to all modern wireless networks goes undetected by the user. By contrast, the apps used by mobile workers are constantly accessing the network as they move from place to place throughout the day. Constantly changing field conditions expose shortcomings in traditional VPN technologies that were designed for stationary use over fast, static networks, resulting in poor application performance and reduced productivity for the mobile workforce. This paper serves as a guide to the tradeoffs in terms of cost, performance and reliability when selecting a VPN for workers in mobile environments. Conventional VPNs Conventional VPNs are typically bundled with multi-purpose devices that sit on the network edge. Since the devices are often purchased for other uses (such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems), the VPN seems to be free. These conventional VPNs were designed for fast, static networks to meet two primary objectives: 1. Support fixed, point-to-point connections between branch offices 2. Provide temporary remote access from home or a public hotspot to a corporate application or network resource While using this technology, today s mobile worker has to contend with two fundamental realities: Public hot-spots are often unavailable or heavily congested, and even though stationary, they are subject to temporary disruptions in connectivity that can prevent a worker from getting something done while waiting for a flight or stopping over at a coffee shop. Service from cellular data providers varies with terrain and location and degrades during peak periods. Variability that might be acceptable to a consumer can cause application instability, increased support costs, and ultimately reduced productivity for the mobile worker. Conventional hardware VPNs carry these hidden costs: You may need to purchase additional hardware, licenses, or products to meet the performance, security, and management requirements of mobile workforces, whose needs and usage patterns vary significantly from those of occasional teleworkers. Proprietary vendor hardware carries pricey annual maintenance contracts, separate from the VPN software. When users cannot connect consistently or reliably, they lose valuable time, which affects your customers and your top and bottom line. Help desk support incidents take more time and are more difficult to diagnose and resolve when a worker is remote. This is because these connection issues are often intermittent and they occur on public/external infrastructure not owned and managed by the IT department. Intelligent VPN Intelligent VPNs are capable of running on a virtual infrastructure or on less-expensive, non-proprietary hardware. They are connection and application-aware, and are built for mobile environments. An intelligent VPN goes beyond just encrypting and routing traffic: adding dynamic access policies that adapt to changing network conditions, optimize application performance, and increase data throughput. They also reduce application instability, and provide tools to track mobile assets and network performance so that administrators can quickly diagnose and fix problems in the field.

3 These advanced features have three goals in mind: 1. Reduce operational costs in the data center by reducing the number of inbound support incidents and accelerating their time to resolution. 2. Keep the mobile workforce productive, allowing them to focus on the task at hand, regardless of the state of the underlying network. 3. Provide flexibility in the data center for multiple configuration scenarios and scalability Cost System Hardware-based Can be virtualized as needed Upfront cost Load balancing and failover Price/performance Maintenance Data usage Most upfront costs for conventional VPNs are associated with specialized multi-purpose, edge hardware. VPN client software licensing/subscription costs tend to be lower. Total upfront costs (hardware and software) tend to be higher for large deployments and roughly comparable for smaller deployments. Load balancing and failover typically requires identical hardware, and sometimes a separate load balancer. For some solutions, when a unit fails, the single-unit maximums for each remaining unit cannot be exceeded. Since all modules on a hardware-based solution share computing resources, adding security modules such as IPS can degrade the performance of both the VPN and IPS modules. Each piece of hardware requires a separate annual maintenance agreement. General-purpose compression algorithms offer some benefit in reducing the amount of data transmitted, but do not offer protocol optimizations or adapt to changing network conditions, and they offer no visibility and control over data plan usage. Mobile Performance and Productivity Connection and application stability In real-world mobile environments, the VPN tunnel is disconnected when the signal is weak or lost, the user roams between networks, or suspends and resumes. During a disconnect, applications that use the network can stop responding to user input, crash, or corrupt application data. Recovery often means restarting the application or even the device. A disconnect frequently means that the user must log on again, which is frustrating and can lead to reduced confidence in the solution as a whole. Most upfront costs for intelligent VPNs are associated with software licensing or subscriptions. Virtualized hardware costs are much lower than conventional VPNs. Total upfront costs for intelligent VPNs are lower for mid-size and large deployments and roughly comparable for smaller deployments. Load balancing and failover is supported with a mix of servers sharing access to a pool of licenses. Load balancing between servers happens on the fly as server load varies. Performance increases in direct proportion to the number of VMs deployed, so improving performance is as easy as adding another VM. VMs also provide built-in disaster recovery. VMs do not require separate maintenance agreements. Intelligent compression reduces data use for text files and images and reduces unnecessary network protocol overhead. In addition, policy controls dynamically adapt compression settings to the network, restrict excessive data use on slower or more expensive networks, and report on usage statistics for data-plan management. Tracking and managing data usage at this level can be of significant benefit in reducing operational costs. Support for full application persistence means that applications stay stable even when there are connection drops, network handoffs, and suspendand-resume cycles. Workers stay productive, the data remains safe, and costly support calls are drastically reduced.

4 Security And Policy Split tunneling policy Conventional VPNs use access controls based on port numbers and IP address. Administrators cannot manage traffic on a per-application basis and confidential data cannot be kept off of expensive or insecure networks. Intelligent VPNs have connection-aware, perapplication, and whole-device split-tunneling policy controls. Administrators can limit the networks the data traverses, the applications that can use those networks, and under what circumstances. Analytics and diagnostics functions allow all aspects of the mobile-user experience to be fine-tuned for enhanced security and productivity. Traffic shaping Traffic shaping is generally a feature tied to other functions of the device (firewall, router) and is not configurable in conjunction with the mobile VPN. Specific applications are given priority access within the tunnel. Essential business applications have the bandwidth they need, regardless of which networks the applications are using, be it a different carrier, or roaming between Wi-Fi, wired, and satellite networks.. Visibility Visibility Conventional VPNs typically do not support network visualization. Depending what products are purchased, administrators may have visibility into the traffic that flows through the enterprise network from the mobile device. They are typically not able to monitor traffic flowing over mobile networks that the organization does not own or control. Intelligent VPNs provide visibility into all the networks used by the mobile workforce based on connection quality, GPS location, and other data gathered by mobile devices. This identifies coverage issues, locations where users have access to next-generation technologies, and any problems associated with specific devices. Insight into user, application, device, and network performance allows administrators to understand usage patterns, curtail bandwidth costs, spot connection problems, fine-tune the deployment, and improve mobile-worker productivity. Troubleshooting With conventional VPNs, determining the root cause of mobile-connection problems requires traditional, step-by-step troubleshooting and often time-consuming drive tests. When users run into problems in the field, the intelligent VPN analyzes their devices, networks, and application software to resolve connectivity issues end-to-end, even for cloud-based applications.. Management EMM/MDM Enterprise - management integration With conventional VPNs, connection management capabilities are limited when mobile devices connect using networks that are not directly managed by the organization.. With conventional VPNs, log aggregation and analysis capability is often an add-on or separate product, sometimes tied to a proprietary vendor solution. With an intelligent VPN, visibility and control over connections on cellular data networks provides a complete and versatile management solution while EMM solutions manage the devices, the intelligent VPN manages the network connectivity on which they depend. With intelligent VPNs, logs can easily be exported to widely used enterprise-intelligence reporting/analysis tools and dashboards. RESTful APIs allow direct queries for extracting performance information..

5 Comparison Summary Conclusion Organizations that are transitioning to a mobile workforce often try conventional VPNs first, either because of the perceived lower cost, or because the VPN capability is bundled with an edge appliance that is already in place. But as the organization adds users, and relies increasingly on the mobile connections for essential work, the cost of ownership spirals upward and conventional VPN limitations become apparent. Mobile-optimized organizations realize that their applications and workers need more out of the mobile networks than conventional VPNs offer. Only an intelligent VPN, with its connection and application-aware access control policies, sophisticated compression and traffic optimization algorithms, virtualized and scalable architecture, and diagnostic and visualization tools allows organizations to manage their workforce for increased productivity over networks that they do not own or control. The more that organizations invest in and rely on mobile devices for their mainstream workers in daily use, the more they need an intelligent VPN purpose-built for mobility. MOBILITY. UNCOMPROMISED.

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