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Choosing a VPN solution

Feb 23, 20042 mins
Network SecurityNetworkingVPN

Nutter advises a company who needs to unify remote offices in one network and structure

For several years, our company was small enough that each office took care of its IT needs. Management now sees the need for a “unified” network vision and structure. Our problem is we now have several locations and have had quite a few challenges getting the networks at the different locations together. It seems like each office has a different way of connecting to the Internet. The range of equipment runs the gambit from a Cisco PIX to a Linksys Broadband router. What is the best way of dealing with this?

– Via the Internet

I’m glad management now sees that IT needs to be handled as uniformly across the board as possible. The challenge before you now is how to get everyone on the same playing field. Look at the vendors that are being used to connect each of your offices to the Internet. See which has either a national presence in each of the locations you’re in or can handle getting things arranged for you. Using a single carrier is one way to get the costs under control.

More and more vendors offer a “managed” VPN solution in which they handle the equipment and configuration to get all your offices connected  without your staff having to deal with the challenges of doing it themselves. I’ve done VPNs using both single- and multivendor solutions, and even if you have a lot of experience in working with VPNs, I wouldn’t suggest the multivendor solution. It can be a lot of headaches. Since it sounds like you need to get things connected as soon as possible, looking at a managed approach could get you there quickly and give you time to find an approach that you could handle on your own should you decide to go that route.

There is no one right way to get multiple offices connected. Doing it the right way may not be cheap. Doing it the cheap way could cost even more money in the end. Ask the vendors you interview to give you customer references of companies that were in the situation you’re in now and see what experiences they went through in the process.