Finding VPN Alternatives That Enhance Multi-Cloud Performance
By: Ernest Sampera on August 24, 2021
Organizations have long utilized virtual private networks (VPNs) to remotely connect to on-premises servers and internal networks. In the years before widespread cloud computing adoption and software defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), they were often the best way to securely connect two points over the public internet without creating a massive security risk.
Like many other technology solutions, the VPN quickly became a “go-to” strategy for many situations it wasn’t originally designed to accommodate. Not only were VPNs familiar, but organizations had already made the investment in setting them up and managing them, so it often made some degree of sense to use them in as many ways as possible to maximize the investment. As companies started incorporating more cloud solutions into their networks, concerns over security pushed some of them into using VPNs to connect their assets to cloud resources rather than investing in VPN alternatives.
Problems with VPN Connections and Multi-Cloud Networking
Unfortunately, VPNs were never really designed to facilitate the unique characteristics of cloud computing. While they still have an important role to play in connecting individual machines to networks, using a VPN to build a hybrid cloud ormulti-cloud deployment is far less effective for a number of reasons.
Continuous Usage Pressures
Most VPN solutions are used to connect a small number of users to an on-premise network for a short period of time. This limitation was exposed when a large percentage of professional workers shifted to remote work environments during the pandemic, creating massive strain on VPN infrastructure. Since the whole value of a multi-cloud deployment is its ability to rapidly transfer data and shift workloads between virtual resources, a VPN alternative is usually a better choice to avoid performance issues.
Enterprise VPNs are complex and often specialized solutions. Repurposing them for a task other than what they were designed to accommodate is time consuming and expensive, especially if additional security or redundancy needs to be built into the connection. There is no easy way to quickly dial up additional bandwidth capacity or create new connections with a VPN solution, which severely compromises the flexibility a multi-cloud deployment is supposed to provide.
Limited Security Controls
Although VPNs are synonymous with security among most users and organizations, cybersecurity professionals are keenly aware of their security limitations when it comes to managing access. Most VPN solutions do not provide granular security controls, so once a connection is made, the user has access to the entire network they’re connecting to. This requires organizations to deploy additional security controls and monitoring tools to manage access. Furthermore, VPN vendors are frequently targets for cybercriminals familiar with their security procedures, which could potentially expose any data the VPN vendor has access to.
Since most VPNs are routed through the vendor’s servers, they can introduce significant latency into a system as data moves between networks. Rather than creating a direct connection from their private servers to the cloud provider’s servers, companies using a VPN add an extra link in the connection chain that is subject to potential bandwidth constraints. For mission critical applications that need to access compute resources located in the cloud, performance will be irregular at best as data moves over inefficient public internet connections.
Public Internet Risks
Speaking of public internet, since VPNs still rely on public ISP infrastructure to make connections, they are frequently unable to provide availability guarantees at reasonable costs. For organizations that require consistent network uptime for their applications and continuous data availability, this limitation is often untenable for their multi-cloud deployment and forces them to seek out a more reliable VPN alternative.
VPN Alternatives for Multi-Cloud Connectivity
Fortunately, modern networking practices offer a number of viable VPN alternatives that can be used to build reliable, high-performance multi-clouds without compromising data security. Placing hardware assets in a colocation data center that offers carrier-neutral access to a marketplace of service providers puts organizations in the very best position to take advantage of these cloud connectivity solutions.
Data Center Cross Connects
When it comes to speed and performance, nothing can compete with the capabilities of a direct cross-connect. A physical, point-to-point connection both removes potential points of failure from the network and bypasses the public internet entirely. One of the biggest networking advantages in a colocation data center is the ability to quickly provision a cross-connect cable to link a customer’s servers to another vendor’s assets.
For all the advantages of cross connects, it’s often not possible to plug directly into the servers of some of the world’s biggest cloud providers. Many of these platforms are managed on equipment running entirely within a proprietary hyperscale data center rather than a local colocation facility. Luckily, software defined network (SDN) providers like Megaport offer the next best thing.
An SDN provider uses software to virtualize a local network deployment while also providing customers access to robust infrastructure that directly connects them to multiple service providers. In essence, a single cross-connect cable runs from the customer’s deployment to the SDN provider’s, which is in turn directly linked to a number of cloud providers through private infrastructure, bypassing the public internet entirely for a more secure connection. Virtual networks can then be set up anywhere within that infrastructure, which helps to combat the impact of latency. So while a customer’s physical servers may be located in a Pittsburgh data center, the hub of their multi-cloud network could be located closer to AWS and Azure cloud servers in Virginia, which would allow any data flowing between them to remain on the network edge rather than having to route back to the physical deployment and create latency in the process.
Implement Your VPN Alternatives for Multi-Cloud with vXchnge
Setting up a network that capitalizes on the true potential of multi-cloud deployments requires VPN alternatives like direct cross connections and SDNs. Rather than setting up a complex, unreliable, and costly series of VPN connections, companies can improve performance and efficiency by migrating assets from limited on-premises environments and into connectivity-rich colocation data centers. Once inside the data center environment, they can access a wide range of direct cloud on-ramps to build a scalable multi-cloud architecture that can carry them into the future.
vXchnge data centers provide a wide array of connectivity options and monitoring tools that allow customers to retain maximum control over their infrastructure. Each facility is backed by a 100% uptime reliability SLA and is staffed by experienced remote hands teams around the clock. To learn more about how our direct cloud on-ramps and SDN partners can help your organization deploy a true VPN alternative for enhanced multi-cloud performance, talk to one of our colocation experts today.
About Ernest Sampera
Ernie Sampera is the Chief Marketing Officer at vXchnge. Ernie is responsible for product marketing, external & corporate communications and business development.