cloud server vs vpn

What network best supports remote work management?

More workers than ever are working remotely. This could be a personal choice, or because they work for a distributed company. Many businesses, especially SMBs (small-to-medium businesses) are increasing their dependence on remote workers for the first time. And this means they’re also facing new networking choices. One of the most important decisions they’ll face is whether to use a virtual private network (VPN) or cloud computing for their remote workers.

But many business owners are fuzzy on what each of these terms means, what they provide, and what the differences between them are—let alone which one is right for their company! We’re here to break down each one to help you choose the right service for your business:

What’s the Difference?

Cloud computing and VPNs aren’t opposites. They’re entirely different concepts. The reason they’re often conflated or discussed in tandem when bringing up remote work is the fact that they can solve some of the same issues. Security and convenient access are two of the primary topics of interest when making this choice, although they’re far from the only issues you should address.

Cloud computing refers to sharing computing resources, generally through a corporate provider. Rather than, for example, having your own local servers, your computing will take place on third party machines. Your hardware investments are minimal compared to hosting your own servers, but you’ll still have the option to access impressive storage capacity and powerful processors. It’s easily scalable if you need more (or less) storage or processing at any point. Also, many cloud service providers prioritize security, so (some of) the burden of securing your data is lifted.

A VPN is a “virtual private network,” and it provides an additional layer of very effective security between the user and your company’s servers. It’s not an alternate method of computing, but rather a stronger security method for protecting your company’s servers and your users’ information and machines when they’re outside of the company’s firewall.

Which is Right for Your Company?

Either—or both—could be the right choice for your company. Cloud computing and VPN use aren’t mutually exclusive nor is one automatically superior to the other. Cloud computing is a much simpler solution, and it can do a great deal for your company besides making remote work more streamlined and intuitive. On the other hand, if you have very serious security concerns, you probably need a VPN. For instance, a VPN will better protect your users’ machines from potential malicious actions while using public WiFi signals. With cloud computing network, your employees would need to connect via a portable WiFi hotspot to stay secure.

Discuss your network, storage, and security needs with your IT department or IT management service. They can help discover the pros and cons for cloud computing and VPN use for your organization. It’s best to have an expert assess your needs after some detailed questions regarding your operations, the role of remote workers in your company, your current data/storage use, the hardware and software your company already depends on and your organization’s future goals. They’ll be able to explain to you in the simplest terms whether a VPN or cloud computing service will be more advantageous.

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