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How do remote access VPNs compare with other types of VPNs?

In this Ask the Expert response, Rainer Enders explains what a remote access VPN is and how it differs from other virtual private networks.

What is a remote access VPN as opposed to any other kind of virtual private network?

A remote access VPN, or more specifically, a secure remote access VPN, is a virtual private network connection that offers remote workers, such as telecommuters or road warriors, a secure way into the network. This type of VPN is sometimes referred to as a “dial-up VPN” and allows single connections from multiple user access devices into a centralized VPN gateway. 

Another class of VPN is a side-to-side virtual private network, typically used for secure connections between branch offices. Here, the secure tunneled connection is established between two or more gateway devices. There are two main VPN topologies for such a network. The first is a hub-and-spoke topology, where one gateway is the designated hub and the other gateways are the spokes, essentially, resembling a star topology. The second is mesh topology, where the gateways are interconnected. In a full mesh network, all gateways are connected directly to one another.

For more information:

Email your VPN-related questions to editor@searchenterprisewan.com.

This was last published in April 2012

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