As the VPN market approaches maturity at a brisk pace, vendors have been forced to rethink the tradition identity of their IP Security-based technology for letting users securely access enterprise resources via the Internet. Most large companies in need of linking their offices together have done so on frame relay networks. Although frame is still a useful product many users have found that the reduced cost of VPN gives them an attractive alternative.
'During the last 18 months, vendors have pushed VPN technology into different devices, have lessened the distinction between VPN and firewall products, and have demonstrated a strong willingness to deviate from standardized technology to meet corporate remote access requirements. VPN services now come bundled with many dedicated services and several service providers are using VPN products as a loss leader so they can sell circuits. When investigating the use of VPN products make sure you speak with a professional who can guide you through the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the product. While it is a cost reduced alternative to frame it is a different product and should be thoroughly researched.
One of the advantages of a VPN is that internet access is not based only on the hub and spoke layout. The users away from the hub are able to access the internet through their own connection rather than going through the hub and creating a bottleneck. Users will only need to connect through the hub if they need to access information from the central database.
Other Considerations. Is the provider offering a MPLS "Intelligent Network" or a dumb VPN tunnel to remotes? If you have VoIP voice for sales or customer service staff, management opens a conference call bridge, then marketing blasts out 10,000 emails - all concurrent events will degrade. MPLS VPN will offer priority control. Don't send emails until the conference or video bridge has ended.
When researching alternatives such as VPN, like always, we recommend you consult with a professional and not just a salesman for a VPN company. Make sure the individual you speak with is unbiased and will give you the strengths and weaknesses of each product. This is what we do at Low T1 Rates for unbiased recommendations of multiple carriers.
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