How a Virtual Cloud Network Can Reduce Costs and Complexities for IT Departments
Workforce mobility provides some of the biggest opportunities and challenges for enterprise networks. The bottom-line benefits of employees being able to work anywhere are clear: greater productivity during business travel, more consistent communication, workday flexibility, reduced infrastructure costs, and much more.
However, the challenges are just as clear. Employees need access to a variety of applications and documents that live either in the cloud or at the corporate data center. Meanwhile, the IT department often must use inflexible legacy architecture and hardware to provide network and application access that is highly secure no matter where employees are working from or which devices they are using.
Finding a flexible alternative to traditional VPNs is important for IT departments as workforce mobility becomes more and more prevalent.
Challenges of Remote Access and Workforce Mobility
Many companies enable remote access and workforce mobility via a head-end box at the corporate data center. This supports security compliance for employees’ devices that may or may not be owned by the organization. However, this design is often inflexible when changes need to be made. Moreover, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) arrangements can present significant concerns with security and the backhauling of casual Internet traffic.
Giving employees remote access to legacy applications that live in the data center presents an array of challenges. For instance, remote users who are off-domain for long periods of time can present compliance issues once they reconnect. Also, traditionally there are high costs associated with supporting mobile and home workers. Their technological needs vary based on location, device, and WAN source — all of which may be resolved one week, only to change when they shift locations the following week.
IT departments often are left scrambling to ensure that these employees are reliably and securely able to connect to the resources they need while keeping expenses, such as IT man-hours and network hardware, to a minimum.
Virtual Cloud Network Solutions for Mobile and Workforce Mobility Challenges
Just as remote access and workforce mobility present unique challenges, they require unique solutions. By setting up a Virtual Cloud Network through Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Engine, any IT professional can ensure users have access to important applications that live in the data center and/or cloud via one tightly controlled network.
NetCloud Engine extends SD-WAN functionality to an organization’s mobile workforce, giving employees a secure, LAN-like connection to private and public cloud apps and files from anywhere and any device. As shown in the diagram above, with NetCloud Engine running on a router at the data center and on each employee device, there is a persistent encrypted connection to a VCN overlay set up specifically for mobile access. It also seamlessly integrates with Active Directory, requiring no changes to existing infrastructure; each remote member remains “on domain” no matter its location.
NCE moves to the cloud the key functionalities that reside in traditional network architecture — such as policy control, app filtering, and NAC — without sacrificing security compliance and without needing a head-end device. Any traffic destined for any application will still flow into the data center using the NetCloud Engine client, and anything coming from the client that goes to the Internet will go directly to the Internet.
A remote worker on the road may stop in a coffee shop and browse his email on his mobile phone while waiting for the train; once he’s on the train, he may connect and work from his laptop. With NetCloud Client loaded on his mobile phone and laptop, and with access to the Active Directory server back at the data center, the Internet essentially becomes his private network. At the same time, IT administrators have policy control for micro-segmentation so they can make sure the remote employee only has access to the applications and data he needs.
Benefits of Virtual Cloud Networks
With VCNs through NetCloud Engine, enterprises can solve the pain points typically associated with legacy VPNs. Benefits of SD-WAN for remote access and mobile workforce mobility include:
- Less hardware required
- Overlay fabric provides seamless integration with legacy architecture
- More flexibility and scalability as an organization expands
- Secure atmosphere for BYOD
- Faster configurations and deployments
- Fewer IT man-hours devoted to deployments and network management
- Reduced bandwidth needs
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