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How can I access each device from my network while keeping the companies' networks secure?

Access devices from a network while keeping companies' networks secure by reading VPN expert Sampath Ramaswami's advice.

I would like to monitor a device with an apache Web server from different companies each with their own LAN. I would like to use some sort of VPN solution. How can I access each device from my network while the companies can still have the rest of their respective networks secure?
There are several ways to accomplish this functionality. One way is to use a set of VPN tunnels, as noted in the question, to allow selected traffic from a "common" network (where your monitoring server sits) into each of the "private" company networks. This is analogous to providing extranet access from each of those private company networks into your network, so that you can provide a monitoring service. You could deploy small VPN appliances onto each company network and a larger VPN appliance in your common network. Each of the VPN appliances would have a VPN tunnel back to the common network, allowing only your monitoring traffic to get through. If the company networks use overlapping IP addresses, which in general may be the case, you may need to use NAT in the VPN appliances to translate each company to a unique address in your common network's address space. This will allow you to use a single monitoring device to reach into those company networks and retrieve status and health information. But, the private traffic on those networks would stay isolated and secure.
This was last published in March 2007

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