VPN & Cloud ComputingFrom its conception, a VPN was meant to secure a connection that has to transit through a public network (via the internet for example). IT managers’ challenge was to find out the best encryption method that should be applied through this tunnel: they had to choose the protocols to be used as well as the devices that they should put at each endpoint of the VPN tunnel. At this stage, things were dealt with in-house and IT managers had control over both endpoints of the VPN tunnel. Learn about VPN cloud computing.

Infrastructure to the cloud

With the event of cloud computing, things dramatically changed: part of the IT infrastructure has moved to the cloud, thereby introducing a third-party into the equation: IT managers are “losing control” over some part of the infrastructure that they are using: they now have to deal with third-party so as to set up a secure connection in order to access their IT resources in the cloud.

Applications and storage move to the cloud

On the end-user side: applications and storage are also moving from their desktop to the cloud.

At this stage, most cloud computing services (e-mail, file sharing, music listening and other online applications) are using SSL connections. However, for some specific uses (public WI-FI, for example), end-users are opting for third-party VPN solution providers to secure their connection. This is a best practice that has been advised to users for years, for example, back in 2006, Corey O’Donnell from ZDNet advised: “Utilize a VPN whenever possible to encrypt your data.” This illustrates the fact that the use of VPN isn’t something that is new. However, it’s gaining more popularity with cloud computing.

Another increasingly popular use of VPN is to override geolocation-limited online services. Sites like Hulu, Spotify, Google Music or others only allow viewers from specific countries to access their services: VPN service is mainly used here for “borrowing” an IP address from authorized countries. The same principles are also used to overcome internet censorship that some countries are applying.

VPN as a standard feature

While cloud computing is gaining more interest from users, it is expected that encryption would also become more popular. And this is where a VPN solution is set to be a standard feature. While there are many VPN implementations, we can safely say that as of the time of writing, IPSec seems to be the most widely accepted option for connecting to the cloud. But within the VPN cloud computing, there are more and more implementations of OpenVPN.

An example from the music industry

If we consider the music industry, for example, the trend is to host and stream your music from the cloud. Music discovery services are already making this feature popular, and they often provide you with a specific application for accessing your music online. Most of the time, those applications are already coming with some kind of encryption built-in. This particularly applies to end-user consumer. But if we consider the corporate consumer, it is mainly accepted that the company will use some kind of VPN solution to access resources from the cloud.

At this pace, the concept of VPN cloud computing will also become a commodity in this online era.

What’s your view on the relationship between VPN and cloud computing? Feel free to share it in the comment system.