slasnyi - Fotolia

How can an enterprise mobile VPN fit into a mobility plan?

Organizations that need to secure mobile users and provide remote access to corporate resources should consider an on-premises or cloud-hosted mobile VPN to support mobile users.

An enterprise mobile VPN establishes secure connections between users' mobile devices and corporate resources and services exclusive to the intranet.

VPN tools use tunneling protocols to encrypt data so it can be safely transmitted and received across less secure remote networks. These tools also authorize which users gain remote access to the secure services and resources and which users are denied certain services.

An enterprise mobile VPN can protect against malware and prevent internet service providers, hackers, government agencies and other entities from sniffing out private data such as IP addresses or geographic locations of certain users and endpoints.

On-premises vs. cloud-hosted enterprise mobile VPNs

An organization that wants to use a Mobile VPN can deploy an on-premises VPN or sign up with a VPN service. On-premises enterprise mobile VPNs require the necessary infrastructure to facilitate secure connectivity.

In some cases, the equipment that supports the on-premises VPN infrastructure, such as servers or routers, might require specialized software or firmware to enable the VPN capabilities. An organization might also have to dedicate some of its equipment specifically to support the VPN.

Incorporating mobile devices into existing traditional on-premises VPN infrastructure can add even more complexity, especially with the variety of mobile devices and platforms out there. The addition of mobile devices to an on-premises infrastructure can also affect bandwidth and concurrency, disrupting connectivity for both mobile and non-mobile users.

Organizations must exercise due diligence when they select their mobile VPN, because some services, especially free ones, have reputations for collecting and selling user data.

The complexities that can come with on-premises mobile VPNs lead many organizations to choose cloud-hosted services for their enterprise mobile VPN. Organizations must exercise due diligence when they select their mobile VPN, because some cloud-hosted services, especially free ones, have reputations for collecting and selling user data, undermining the benefits of VPN protections. As such, organizations must fully vet mobile VPN service providers and their platforms. Many VPN services started with a focus on the consumer market and might not be able to address all business requirements, and therefore an on-premises mobile VPN may present fewer management troubles.

Incorporate a mobile VPN into a mobility management strategy

Whatever the scenario, an enterprise mobile VPN requires organizations to allocate the necessary budget and personnel to deploy the infrastructure and maintain operations. In addition, the VPN infrastructure must be able to integrate into the organization's existing network and with other data center systems, such as directory services, which could take up additional resources.

Even among credible mobile VPN providers, IT must carefully weigh available features, such as the type of encryption they support, ease of management and the extent of IT controls over user activity. Organizations and IT departments should take the reputations, financial stability, support models and customer base into account when they select a mobile VPN option. Organizations should also determine whether the VPN protects all Internet connections or only the connections users make to the corporate network.

For any enterprise mobile VPN, IT professionals must ensure that it uses advanced encryption algorithms to create a secure tunnel between the organization's mobile devices and corporate resources and that only authorized users can access those resources remotely. IT must also be aware that some countries ban the use of VPNs or limit the VPN products that can be used within their borders. Finally, organizations must consider account licensing and cost issues, as long as they don't put data at risk in the name of saving money.

Dig Deeper on Mobile security

Unified Communications