Ask the Expert

A short enterprise VPN deployment guide

Our company is doing research on implementing a VPN so employees can work remotely. Does the initial implementation tend to be expensive, and what are some implementation pitfalls that we ought to avoid?

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Fortunately, a VPN deployment is usually inexpensive. In fact, if you don't expect more than a few dozen VPN users, you probably already have the technology you need built into your firewall. Consult the manufacturer's documentation for details. If, however, you expect a high load of VPN activity, you'll probably want to purchase a dedicated VPN appliance that uses hardware encryption technology for efficient processing.

When I think about past VPN deployments, these are the two requirements that come to mind to ensure a successful implementation:

  • Define your authentication requirements for the VPN up front. What type of authentication will you require? The username and password setup is easy and familiar to users, but may not be enough to provide the desired level of network security. Many organizations choose to use an additional technology, such as keyfob authenticators, to increase the degree of trust in VPN user identities.
  • Create a written user access policy. What services will VPN users be able to access? Will they be granted the same access to resources as users physically located in the office, or will their access be curtailed in some way? Sit down and document these policies before deploying your VPN or you'll be sure to have problems down the road.

A little planning goes a long way toward a successful VPN deployment. Clear up the policy issues from the beginning and you'll have an easier time rolling your VPN into production.

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This was first published in June 2009

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