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Virtual Private Networks, Second Edition by Paul Wolfe, Charlie Scott, Mike Erwin

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Chapter 3. Wide Area, Remote Access, and the VPN

Even though this book is about virtual private networks, we’re prepared to admit that a VPN is not always the best networking solution. This chapter compares its costs and benefits, in very general terms, to two industry standard alternatives: a wide area network (in which you lease dedicated lines between sites) and remote access (in which users dial up banks of modems at a central site). Each solution has its merits and flaws, and likewise, each has its comparative cost points.

We do not offer an exhaustive price list, as this chapter would reach the size of an entire book (and the prices change weekly anyway). What we do cover, however, is each solution’s pros and cons and some price breakpoints for general comparison. This will at least allow for an informed decision on where to begin researching your own WAN/RAS/VPN solution.

General WAN, RAS, and VPN Concepts

All three of these networking solutions provide the same result: connection of remote users to private network resources. Likewise, each has its own set of parameters that maintain three important networking concepts: security, scalability, and stability. Finally, all three have similar pieces that can be assigned a break- down cost: telecommunication lines, networking hardware/software, and system administration. All six of these generic concepts will be used to compare the three networking solutions in the following sections.

A wide area network, or WAN, consists of two ...

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