VPN testing: it’s never been more important and it’s never too late
To learn more about how to address the VPN challenges of today, visit viavisolutions.com/vpn.
As we near the end of the 2020, it’s important to take stock of the past year and – even more importantly – to look forward to 2021. This includes acknowledging ‘trends’ as long-term shifts, and ensuring that solutions and strategies are in place to support your business, your employees, and your customers for the future.
At this point 12 months ago, few would have predicted that the biggest trend for white collar businesses in 2020 would be remote working. At the time, the majority of employees were based in offices. For many, this meant working on their company’s desktop PCs accessed the internet via their company’s WiFi connection. Applications were secure, data could be stored locally, and performance could be monitored by a company’s IT team.
The shift from office to home-based working has meant that employees in their tens, hundreds, or thousands have had to rely on a VPN connection between their (sometimes personal) devices at home, and their company’s network. In the US, for instance, VPN demand increased by 44% over the second half of March.
We now know that remote working isn’t a passing trend. It’s a transformational change that’s here to stay. Even King of the Office Bill Gates recently commented that 50% of business travel and 30% of office life will disappear. Fortunately, there’s still time for business and IT leaders to prepare for this change.
This involves supporting their employees to work remotely, in the office, or a hybrid combination of the two, and to change the way they work quickly and at short notice. It also involves minimising impact to their business and ensuring operations continue to run as smoothly as possible. Finally, it involves guaranteeing that network and data security remain top of the agenda, and that security policies continue to be adhered to no matter where or how its employees are working.
Without preparing IT infrastructure to support these changes, businesses will face challenges. According to the Neustar International Security Council, 64% of companies experienced disruptions to network security business practices due to employees working remotely earlier in 2020. Seventy-eight per cent of corporate VPNs have experienced some connectivity issues.
This is understandable: most VPNs weren’t designed to withstand the levels of traffic generated by remote workforces. And remember, much of this traffic will be high-bandwidth and network-intensive. Just a few years ago, remote working might have involved using traditional Office suite software, making phone calls, and sharing documents as email attachments. Today, employees are collaborating on documents in real time, running data analytics, managing multiple cloud-hosted applications and video calling colleagues. For evidence of this, look no further than leading Videoconferencing, Zoom, which saw a massive 355% increase in revenue in Q2.
As such, most business and IT leaders won’t have ever considered the need to test the performance of their VPN. Indeed, most probably haven’t considered – or don’t know – the whys and hows of VPN testing. It’s never too late to find out though, and it’s never too late to test.
Why should businesses test their VPN?
Businesses must test their VPN to ensure that their infrastructure can support the increased capacity demanded by a remote workforce. They must also define the correct balance of security policies for their VPN client to ensure network security. This will also help them ensure that the infrastructure will deliver a reasonable level of quality of experience for video, voice and data.
Validating the performance of applications will help businesses avoid VPN oversubscription and allow employees to work efficiently and productively – i.e. avoid outages, frozen Zoom calls and the dreaded spinning wheel!
A flexible working environment is now the default working environment and things are unlikely to change. This is why businesses shouldn’t just test their VPN service and then hope everything will be okay. They should continue to monitor and assure the performance KPIs of the VPN service.
How can businesses test their VPN?
A few months ago, VIAVI launched a suite of products to support the delivery of VPN services throughout the lifecycle, from validation, to pre-deployment testing, to monitoring, assurance and troubleshooting named the VPN Management Solution.
Before investing in a new VPN, business and IT leaders can ensure that the service will be capable of handling the demands of a remote workforce. Our TeraVM solution emulates and measures leading VPN vendor clients at scale to evaluate performance under operational conditions. The VPN headend is tested with real traffic, mimicking hundreds or thousands of employees dialling into the network and ensuring that the VPN headend can stand up to this level of traffic.
Another element of the VPN Management Solution, the Observer Platform provides immediate end-user experience scoring. If KPIs are met the service can go live, if not, issues can be remedied early, and the chance of risk further own the line reduced. Your IT team will thank you for it!
And if you do experience issues further down the line, the Management Solution allows for complete visibility into performance issues like throughput, latency, and packet loss. The root cause of the problem can be identified easily and rectified quickly.
Remote working isn’t a temporary state, and solutions to network problems shouldn’t be temporary or ‘quick fix’ either. Instead of simply looking back on 2020, business and IT leaders should look forward to next year and prepare their businesses and employees for productivity and prosperity in 2021.