One thing to get out of the way, many people when they hear about VPNs will think about those subscription-based services you see ads for all over the web, they go like “Protect your privacy! Subscribe to [insert name] now!”.
This article doesn’t cover that. On this website, VPNs specifically refer to situations where you own the devices.. ie you are connecting locations/devices that are under your control. Not every company wants to put their data on the “cloud”.
The two most common types of VPNs are:
1. LAN-to-LAN: you link two locations for the purpose of virtually having all machines on both sides to be on a single network (illustrated in first diagram above).
2. Road-Warrior: is when a single device (laptop/PC/phone), connects to a network to access its resources, like an employee connecting back to HQ office.
A simple example: say you are running a business in Malaysia, HQ and 3 branches. In HQ, you have a server with databases, files ..etc. The branches need to access this data.
If you ask your database vendor for a solution, they might suggest some sort of “Cloud” setup, or perhaps ask you to expose your server on the Internet (ie open ports) so the branches can access it. This is not secure.
VPNs come in handy, you can link those branches to HQ and have them access the server as if it was local to them. With today’s high-speed fiber internet (think TM’s UniFi 100mbps or 500mbps), the latency and load-times will be so quick it would feel as if the server is in the “same building” for everyone in all branches.
No need for a “cloud” server (basically you putting your files in someone else’s servers), and no need to expose your network by opening ports in your firewall. With VPN you keep your network private and still provide easy access to your staff everywhere regardless of location.
What we just described above (branches connecting to HQ) is called a LAN-to-LAN VPN. The VPN tunnel can be established by the routers themselves.
The second common type of VPNs is casually called Road-Warrior. Continuing with our example above, say you have some conference overseas, and while abroad, you wish to access your server and check some data. You can simply connect your device (be it laptop/phone..etc) back to your network at HQ and access all resources as if you are still in office.
Note that this functionality is still provided by the same router that links your branches, the same router can receive direct connections from individual users.
An added benefit with this setup is that all data going through the tunnel will be safe and encrypted. While overseas, if you wish to do some online banking, doing it over the VPN adds a layer of security as it goes through your trusted network as opposed to using the hotel WiFi.
Feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements and possible solutions.