Site to Site and Remote Access VPN: What is the difference?


Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are designed to provide a secure network connection to users and devices, especially while using public networks. They encrypt your traffic and disguise your identity so that third parties cannot track your activities and hijack sensitive data. Gartner describes it as a system that offers communication services to meet business needs on shared public network infrastructure.

But while VPNs are popular on the internet, many cannot distinguish between site-to-site VPNs and remote access VPNs.

What is a Site-to-Site VPN?

Site-to-site VPNs are used to connect multiple private networks through an encrypted tunnel that makes sharing of resources and information achievable between applications, devices, and employees without unauthorized interference. Site-to-site VPNs are also known as router-to-router VPNs.

What Is Remote Access VPN?

On the other hand, remote access VPNs create a secure employee-to-business connection through installed software on host devices (computers, smartphones, etc.). With this, remote workers can participate in company network activities as though they were physically present at the company office.

Remote access VPN provides private networks and resources to remote users and supports multiple users.

Site-to-Site and Remote Access VPN: What is the Difference?

The site-to-site VPN secures the connection between a potential user and a company network. The primary user can connect with another potential user and share resources across locations. If permission is granted for additional access, they’ll also be able to use the same resources safely.

Site-to-site VPNs are of two major types. One is an intranet-based network, while the other is extranet-based.

The intranet-based involves users connecting to resources through an intranet VPN created to link different local access networks (LANs) to just one vast access network (WAN). With extranet-based VPNs, two separate intranets are connected to a secure, shared network environment while not giving access to each other’s intranets.

While site-to-site VPNs offer multiple user functionalities, remote-access VPNs aim more to satisfy personalized needs.

Remote-access VPNs allow users to leverage secure and encrypted tunnels to use company resources from their different remote areas. With this VPN, users can use dedicated VPN software to connect to a remote access server (RAS).

Site-to-site VPN largely satisfies secure network access with company departments, office employees, management, and other users within an organization. In contrast, remote access VPN satisfies the security need of a personal user.

The site-to-site VPN aids connectivity between networks whether other users are also connected, allowing them to share information from one endpoint to another. However, remote access VPNs offer benefits such as private and encrypted data transfers, including access to network resources as though they were directly connected to the network.

In terms of implementation, site-to-site VPNs use IPsec security to create an encrypted tunnel from network to network — often HQ or Data Center to the customer’s remote site from between part of a LAN or whole, on both sides. The Remote access VPN gives an individual access to Private Networks through SSL and IPsec technology (often DC or HQ).

The site-to-site VPN performance is excellent for multiple users or VLAN traffic flow through each VPN tunnel. Remote access VPN may experience outstanding performance, too, depending on when used remotely.

In terms of target users, Site to Site VPN is commonly used in office LAN for workers in branch offices to build connections with the headquarters. However, remote VPN provides secure personal access to resources to every individual.

So, if you are a regular internet user who is constantly looking for content online, you’ll find the remote access VPN very resourceful. Remote access VPN solutions today have many secure provisions for individuals working remotely.

Personal VPNs offer various services, including secure browsing and anonymous browsing sessions.

Site-to-site Benefits

Data security: Site-to-site VPNs reduce the need for regular opt-ins around VPN connections. It lays off processing and encryption overheads from host devices to differentiate router components from their security counterparts.

Ideal for companies with multiple locations: Site-to-site VPNs suit organizations that run numerous site locations in their system. They connect networks to another network, so organizations with such structures will find this VPN type fitting.

Site-to-site VPNs support mission-critical traffic such as VoIP communications: The VPN type supports good service quality with low latency, sending information securely over the network.

Remote access VPN Benefits

Affordability feature: Remote access VPNs do not cost so much to businesses of diverse sizes. A considerable part of the cost is generated through user license fees.

Mobility and remote advantage: Users are not restricted to a specific office location to use remote-access VPNs. They can connect from any location, and that’s a huge plus for customers and employees whose mobility is a priority.

Security of data. Data security is a significant assurance for remote access VPNs offer network users. The encrypted feature makes it safe to use public Wi-Fi without the worry of being attacked.

Making A Decision Between Remote Access And Site-to-site VPNs

Potential users must consider their significant functions and the problem they hope to solve in their organizations when planning to implement either VPNs.

Network administrators should consider a sufficient VPN number of software licenses and network bandwidth to allow minimal latency and throughput for every remote user. Considering organizations’ operations, teams should consider network equipment monitoring and sniffing for top-level integrity of network traffic.

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