Strategies for Managing Large-Scale VPN Deployments

Large organizations today are experiencing a rapid evolution in technology that is challenging traditional security systems and infrastructures.

IT departments are being asked to secure connections for many more users. Not only does everyone now have their own smartphone but often they may have several devices all communicating with the corporate network at the same time.

The arrival of business-oriented Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)/Machine-to-Machine (M2M) devices creates yet more demand for secure connectivity.

VPNs remain a critical part of mobile device and IIoT/M2M security strategy.

However, simply adding more and more VPNs can bring fresh management challenges such as oversubscription, processing latency, bandwidth overload and network congestion.

CIOs therefore have a lot to think about when contemplating a large-scale VPN management solution. These following strategies should help prevent admin teams from being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of new connections needing to be secured.

An important first step is to adopt a policy-based VPN management strategy.

This gives IT administrators centralized control over VPN features and corporate policies and is much simpler than having to manage devices individually. The faster and easier this process, the better.

A central, policy-based approach treats every location as an object in the system, assigning rules and rights automatically.

Good centrally managed VPN software automatically checks policy changes. Amended policies are then distributed quickly to all VPN gateways to keep them up to date.

A further benefit of this strategy is that IT admins can keep track of all active VPNs on the network via a dashboard that shows their status in real time.

When it comes to managing VPN clients on end-user devices the strategy should support network heterogeneity.

This translates as seamless management of the diverse communications channels, different operation systems, numerous user accounts and permissions that make up the corporate ecosystem.

For example, to avoid the possibility of any security leaks or unnecessary management effort at connection points, the system needs to empower administrators with control over configuration and certificate distribution in a single instance.

It is essential for the VPN management system to support all operating systems. This is because even if the organization does not allow employees to use their own devices for work right now, it is highly likely that devices with every conceivable operating system will be connected to the company network at some point.

A good VPN client solution allows device connectivity issues like LAN access certification or authentication to occur automatically at the VPN gateway.

The VPN management software must also filter and match all relevant data for VPN access like group membership, user names and passwords.

This strategy allows the VPN management system to take care of the client device parameters needed for VPN connection. It also avoids having to store connection criteria for individual devices centrally.

In this way, the VPN management administrates all additional client parameters necessary for VPN connections and eliminates any need to make VPN-specific expansions of the schema or the database itself.

Some organizations have to manage large-scale, cloud-based VPN deployments with many customers.

In this scenario, it’s a good idea to have multi-tenancy support to make sure the user accounts and transferred data of each customer using the same VPN gateway are kept completely separate from one another.

A well-designed and practical VPN management strategy can provide a two-fold advantage.

Cloud services provider customers are able to manage simple, basic management tasks in a hosted, virtual VPN gateway. It saves them from having to add their own VPN specialist to the payroll.

Meanwhile, the cloud services provider has an easy means of tracking service usage for invoicing purposes, along with control over service levels and the ability high levels of security for their customers.

In summary, for large organizations implementing a mobile device and IIoT/M2M security strategy, a VPN remains an ideal way for them to access enterprise applications and systems securely.

To ensure this process occurs as smoothly and sustainably as possible, IT departments must be able to mitigate risks while paying careful attention to many changing variables.

One way is use a client VPN that forces remote connectivity to the corporate LAN by mobile devices to follow the same rules as if they were physically on the network.

At the same time, the IT department can manage policies and processes needed for the easy, secure access of many thousands of devices via a VPN central management system.

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