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What is a VPN concentrator, and what does it do?

With the growing popularity of remote work, businesses are looking for ways to extend corporate security tools to employees’ homes. This is where VPN concentrators come in handy. A VPN (virtual private network) concentrator is a device that connects many remote networks and clients to a central corporate network. How do they work – and does your business need one? Read on to find out.

What is a VPN concentrator, and what does it do?

What is a VPN concentrator?

A VPN concentrator is a hardware device that creates and helps to manage multiple VPN connections remotely. Similarly to a VPN, it encrypts outgoing and incoming data and uses security protocols to create safe tunnels, but on a larger scale. It is widely used by large companies with many remote employees.

A VPN concentrator extends the capabilities of a VPN router and can serve thousands of users at the same time. Using this device, you can establish multiple encrypted VPN tunnels simultaneously, creating a secure connection between different VPN nodes. Each user gets an encrypted VPN tunnel, allowing them to securely connect to the company’s network from anywhere in the world.

What does a VPN concentrator do?

Here are the primary functions of a VPN concentrator:

  • Creating encrypted tunnels to secure your traffic. It can create multiple VPN tunnels in a single network;
  • Authentication of users who access the centralized system;
  • Encryption and decryption of data;
  • Assigning IP addresses to users;
  • Ensuring end-to-end encryption from a centralized network to a remote client.

Using VPN concentrators helps companies ensure the same level of protection for all their employees.

You should consider using a VPN concentrator only if you operate a large business, as its maintenance costs are quite high. For a smaller number of users, a VPN router may be a sufficient protection measure, as it is much cheaper and easier to maintain. However, it is quite difficult to configure a VPN router for a larger number of connections, so a VPN concentrator is a more convenient option in such cases.

VPN concentrators should not be confused with site-to-site VPN services. The latter establish secure connections between fixed locations (for example, several offices), which then can access the same databases and internal systems.

The most popular VPN concentrators

Similarly to VPN services, there are lots of VPN concentrator manufacturers. Their price depends on how many VPN tunnels they can support and their workload capabilities. Here are some of the most popular brands:

  • Cisco Meraki. Cisco is one of the major manufacturers of VPN concentrators. Their concentrators are usually easy to deploy and are suitable for exceptionally large companies;
  • ShoreTel. ShoreTel VPN concentrators allow you to install a remote IP telephony network, which secures IP phones;
  • Aruba. Hewlett-Packard also has a share of the VPN concentrator market. Their products are handy tools to interconnect your corporate system with remote users.