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Networking Unplugged

Perspectives on cloud networking and software-defined WANs

Posted October 08, 2013
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Cloud VPN: The Next Evolution in Networking

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Until now, very little has changed in the traditional Virtual Private Network (VPN) business networking space in the last decade—especially when compared with advances in other spheres of IT such as processing, storage, mobility, and consumer networking.Yet despite networking stagnation, the world has continued on—cloud service adoption is soaring, new security threats are coming from all directions, workforces are increasingly mobile, and mobile devices are rapidly proliferating.

These change agents are challenging the traditional VPN approach to networking, paving the way for a new way to network—in the cloud.It no longer makes sense for remote workers to establish a remote connection back into their physical office in order to access the servers, files, and applications that are, in fact, in the cloud. Moreover, people are increasingly working outside the office, and need LAN-like access to the network from everywhere they work, and on the devices they use. Hardware VPN is inherently less redundant than cloud services today, and the hardware and configuration requirements of VPN make the solution un-scalable and inflexible.

The cloud is transforming IT infrastructure, making it possible for any size business to adopt and afford enterprise-class apps, computing, and storage. Networking shouldn’t be any different.

Cloud VPN, defined

Cloud VPN is away to describe the connectivity component of cloud networking, which is new way to build networks without the cost, complexity, and constraints of hardware-based VPN. The concept of cloud networking is simple—all core networking functions are moved to the cloud, eliminating the need for configurations and local hardware.

VPN: Then and now

Since the first signs of globalization, businesses have struggled with the challenge of connecting geographically distributed branches of business. The Internet, along with relatively inexpensive connectivity, gave businesses the opportunity to build private business networks on top of the public Internet infrastructure and, for the first time, access networks from remote locations.  VPN networking was born.

When it was first developed, VPN infrastructure was simpler and less expensive to implement than previous technologies of the time. VPN enabled mid-sized businesses—assuming they possessed the expertise and IT staff—to create highlybranched and geo-dispersed business networks. The market for VPN products was enormous, and is still represented by some of the world’s largest equipment vendors.

But the upfront costs, required installation time and complexity, ongoing support contracts, ongoing management time, and forklift upgrades for added capacity are just a few reasons why hardware-based VPN solutions have fallen behind the IT curve. 

 Just as the cloud made enterprise-class applications, computing, and storage available and affordable to any size business, cloud networking has the potential to do the same for networking. Consider how multi-tenant architecture-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications like Salesforce have changed the status quo within the customer relationship management (CRM) space. Cloud networking will bring about a similar disruption in the networking space.

Cloud networking offers the same benefits as other cloud-based IT services, such as:

  • Rapid deployment
  • Easy administration
  • No new hardware to buy
  • No software updates or annual maintenance
  • Pay-as-you-grow subscription pricing
  • Built-in scalability and redundancy
  • Anywhere access via an internet connection

Silicon Valley-based startups such as CipherGraph, Pareto, Pertino, and Meraki are pioneers in the cloud networking space.

Who are the main VPN players today?

VPN providers largely fall into one of two main categories—hardware or software solutions.

Juniper and Cisco are on the hardware side, both providing appliance VPN solutions. Juniper designs and sells a number of network products and services including routers, Ethernet switches and security products. Typically, Juniper’s network operating system runs on its own Juniper products. Cisco designs, manufactures, and sells networking devices and management, and was one of the first companies to sell routers that support multiple network protocols. 

On the software side there is OpenVPN—a free and open source VPN software application that creates point-to-point or site-to-site connections in routed or bridged configurations and remote access facilities. 

To learn how Pertino delivers cloud networking to SMBs, check out Pertino.com or create a free Pertino network for yourself in minutes, and see how networking has evolved. 

Larry Stein

Larry Stein

Director, Marketing

This is Larry’s fifth startup over the past 15 years, during which he navigated two IPOs and two acquisitions. Before Pertino, Larry served tours of service with Ameritech and data communications training.

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