Advantages of an extranet-based VPN

Learn how an extranet based on a VPN allows you to safely and selectively share confidential information on your corporate network with authorized outsiders, including customers and suppliers.

Intranet VPNs provide secure internal (employee) access to branch office networks; extranet VPNs provide secure outsider access to selected shared resources. For example, extranet VPNs can be used to share parts inventory and purchase orders with suppliers. They can be used to supply product information and pricing to customers. They can be used to make collaborative project files accessible to business partners, consultants, and others...

with a need to know.

What are some of the advantages of being able to safely and selectively share confidential information with authorized outsiders?

  • Without an extranet, your company might hesitate to run sensitive internal and partner databases on the same server. With an extranet, you can enforce granular access permissions to share partner data without jeopardizing internal data on the same server.

  • Without an extranet, your company might have to install a private access link to support a collaborative project. With an extranet, you can use existing network resources and the Internet to share project data, while preventing eavesdropping or modification in transit.

  • Without an extranet, your company might wait days or weeks for parts to be ordered and shipped. With an extranet, your suppliers can remotely monitor inventory levels and automatically ship replacement parts when predefined minimums are reached.

    These are just a few of the many ways in which organizations can benefit from an extranet VPN. In general, the larger the company, the more complex the organization's business processes and relationships with other companies, creating more opportunities to leverage an extranet VPN's shared infrastructure.

    About the author:
    Lisa Phifer owns Core Competence Inc., a consulting firm specializing in leading-edge network technology. She has been involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of networking and security products for over 25 years. Before joining Core Competence, Phifer was a member of the technical staff at Bell Communications Research, where she won a president's award for her work on ATM network management. Phifer teaches about wireless LANs, mobile security, NAC, and VPNs at many industry conferences and webinars. She has written extensively about network infrastructure and security technologies for numerous publications.

  • This was first published in February 2009

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