Selecting a VPN design: Rationales and influences

VPN design rationales tend to come from the top down and the bottom up. Learn what really influences an IT manager's VPN product decision.

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Various VPN vendors

Shown above: Companies that provide VPN support and client software

When selecting a virtual private network (VPN) for your enterprise, VPN design rationales usually proceed in two directions at once: from the top down, and from the bottom up. This can pose interesting challenges for IT staff.

These are characteristics of a top-down approach to selecting a VPN:

  • Existing infrastructure dictates the VPN components chosen.
  • Upper management dictates your specific vendor choice or relationship.
  • Purchase decisions are based purely on best price, or on the optimal features-to-price tradeoff.

Under this typical VPN design rationale, IT only rarely gets the option to pick whatever it wants.

There are characteristics of a bottom-up approach to selecting a VPN:

  • User platforms dictate VPN protocols and solutions.
  • Low-cost or freeware VPN clients drive remaining component choices.

This bottom-up approach creates a free-for-all: Multiple VPNs get used for different user groups or platforms.

→ To view the four top VPN clients, see the next slide.

This was first published in October 2011

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