What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? First off, it is “virtual”, but not in the sense that it represents something that is actually not there (ie. virtual reality gaming experiences). It is virtual in the sense that this network brings all of the structure and capabilities of a larger and more complicated network to an individual that is not located in the same space as the network’s central facility. In other words, the virtual network brings everything right to you without you actually being there. An example of this would be a head office that is connected to various regional offices and remote users by a telecommunications system (something like the internet or your telephone lines). It is “private” in the sense that this VPN connects computers, servers and mainframes and their shared technology with secure access to a level of an organization’s network. The VPN’s purpose is to avoid the overwhelming costs associated with a system that is made up of lines of communication that are owned by another organization. By operating this way, the VPN provides secure network usage without any of the high costs of setting up hard-line or wireless structures. By using a system such as this, all the remote users or regional offices have direct and secure communications with the central facility and can use all of the accompanying software, connections and hardware, but are maintaining their remote status. Therefore the connectivity is assured and secure, while at the same time the company or organization does not have to spend lots of money hard wiring a system for networking and sharing information, but has all the benefits of such a system.
The VPN did not exist until the late 1990′s. This was because they were not “needed” yet. Most companies and organizations were perfectly content with their hardwired and local networks. Once the industry realized that their regional offices and remote units could “have it all” and not be located at the central office, VPN soared in usage and popularity. Virtual Private Networks are are still very popular today.