Remote VPN vs Cloud VPN: What’s the Difference?

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Remote VPN or Cloud VPN – which is the best vpn service (opens in a new tab) For Your Business ? Some companies offer one or the other, while others – like Perimeter 81 – our choice for best business VPN (opens in a new tab), offer both. Virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypt online information transfers, protecting customer data and sensitive messages.

Remote VPN (also known as Remote Access VPN) allows you to securely connect individual devices to a private corporate network. A typical example of this is when employees access an office network from their personal computer. Cloud VPN (also known as Site-to-Site VPN) allows two private corporate networks, such as those at a branch office and headquarters, to communicate securely.

Remote VPN vs Cloud VPN: Features

With a remote VPN, you must install VPN software on your corporate server. Subsequently, individual users can download an application to their personal computer or smartphone and use it to securely access your corporate network. The VPN encrypts emails sent over the network, as well as documents, and even user requests to scan or print these documents.

In practice, this means that the remote VPN:

  • Allows an unlimited number of individual devices such as laptops, cell phones, scanners and printers to connect securely
  • Encrypts all requests sent and received by these devices, hiding your network traffic from malicious actors
  • Is temporary: employees can disconnect their devices from the VPN when not working and reconnect when they return

Alternatively, Cloud VPN can be used to connect two corporate networks. You may have multiple offices, with employees actively interacting with customer data that is recorded daily in a CRM. Unlike individuals, these networks are in constant communication. For example, if one office registers a client in the CRM, this data must be immediately shared with all other offices and encrypted. The sheer volume of data alone requires a permanent infrastructure.

Instead of installing a VPN client on your server, you can connect your offices to a VPN gateway hosted virtually by a cloud VPN provider. The gateway encrypts and decrypts traffic as needed and acts as a permanent third-party bridge between your networks.

This means that Cloud VPN:

  • Doesn’t require you to install a VPN on your corporate servers
  • Allows two or more large corporate networks to communicate securely
  • Encrypts all traffic between any number of networks
  • Is more permanent: the cloud provider has a permanent infrastructure and you pay to use it

Remote VPN vs Cloud VPN: Performance

Remote VPN encrypts data locally and relies on the local computing power of employee devices. With Cloud VPN, a dedicated third-party gateway handles the encryption of all traffic. This makes cloud VPN faster and more efficient than remote VPN. However, creating a permanent VPN connection for each employee’s home network is expensive and inconvenient.

If all this talk of networks and data packets is confusing, consider this analogy: If remote VPN is like a car, cloud VPN is like a train. The car can carry four or five people at a time, while the train can carry thousands of passengers. However, this does not mean that a train is better than a car in all situations. It wouldn’t be practical to build a station in every aisle for people to get to work. Moreover, the train only serves several predefined destinations, while the cars are flexible and can take you almost anywhere.

Cloud VPN builds a permanent encrypted communication tunnel between large networks. Remote VPN encrypts the connections of many devices accessing a single network. One is not necessarily better than the other. Instead, they have different use cases and should be implemented according to your specific needs.

Remote VPN vs Cloud VPN: Support

Remote and cloud VPNs are a complex mix of hardware and software built on top of an existing network infrastructure. Depending on the skills and equipment of your in-house IT team, and the complexity of your network, your support needs will vary from basic customer service to dedicated support from experienced software engineers.

Because support needs vary, VPN providers like Perimeter 81 offer different levels of support for different plan holders. Perimeter 81’s customer support ranges from chat and email support only during business hours on its Essentials tier. The Enterprise level adds 24/7 phone, chat, and email support, as well as a dedicated customer success manager.

Remote VPN vs Cloud VPN: Pricing and Plans

Since cloud and remote VPNs have different use cases, your business may require one or the other or use both in tandem. See Perimeter 81’s pricing chart as an example of the types of pricing you might see for cloud and remote VPN services.

Sample Perimeter 81 Pricing Table of types of pricing you might see for remote cloud and VPN services.
Essential Prime Premium Plus Company
Begins to $8/user/month + $40/gateway $12/user/month + $40/gateway $16/user/month+$40/gateway Pricing available on request
Maximum number of applications 2 ten 100 Unlimited
Minimum number of users 5 ten 20 50
Maximum bandwidth per gateway 500Mbps 1000Mbps 1000Mbps 1000Mbps
Remote VPN Yes Yes Yes Yes
cloud-vpn Yes Yes Yes Yes

As you can see, the pricing isn’t straightforward, as you can technically set up both cloud VPN and remote VPN from the lowest tier if you want. Cloud VPN only uses gateways, and since gateways cost $40/month regardless of your bandwidth, it’s best to choose the Premium tier (or higher) for cloud VPN, to get access to larger gateways .

Remote VPN uses gateways, provides connectivity to users, and allows users to access applications. Its cost will depend on the number of users you have and the number of applications your employees need to access.

A small business that only needs to give secure access to its CRM to a few employees might be fine at the Essentials level. A large company whose employees need access to a full office suite, secure messaging, and CRM may need to purchase the Enterprise tier to avoid the app cap.

Remote VPN vs Cloud: Verdict

Although similar and often provided by the same companies, remote and cloud VPNs have different use cases. Cloud VPN works behind the scenes, encrypting communication between networks. It is also more efficient than remote VPN. However, it cannot be used to connect remote workers to your company’s network, nor can it host applications that these workers can use.

If you need to set up a secure remote working environment for your team, you need to implement a remote VPN. Whether you need one or the other (or both) depends on the nature of your network infrastructure and your remote working needs.

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