A virtual private network is a relatively new creation. It serves the same purpose as a wide area network (WAN), but it’s a lot less expensive to maintain. That’s why many large corporations with multiple offices across great distances are migrating to the use of VPNs (virtual private networks) for communicating and file transfers.

Reporters Without Borders relies on a VPN for an anti-censorship shelter designed to help dissidents and residents of restrictive regimes who want to use the Internet to speak out freely about abuses in their governments. In order for this type of network to work there must be certain things in place to provide the benefits to its members, namely:

  • Security – The virtual private network must be secure enough to keep out nonmembers and, in the case of Reporters Without Borders, those with abusive tendencies;
  • Encryption – Messages sent through the VPN, because they rely on the public Net, must be encrypted as a further security measure;
  • A Cloud – Because the virtual private network exists within a public network and because it connects multiple nodes, routers, servers and computers, information shared between its members is, by nature, “cloud-like”;
  • A Manager – Someone needs to look after the virtual private network to ensure it maintains operational significance and provides the expected benefits to its members.

Unlike a wide area network, a virtual private network doesn’t rely on cables. It relies on the public Internet and uses tunneling technology to allow members to send encrypted files and information from computer to computer across great distances. I don’t think you can get any more cloud-like than that. But the question that begs to be asked is, Where is the network hosted?

That’s where the manager comes in. Companies and organizations with the budget can host their own. However, many companies are relying on outside hosting companies to set up dedicated servers, managed servers or other other hosting anomalies to manage their internal VPNs.

In the future, if your head isn’t in the cloud then it isn’t attached to your body. Today is the day for virtual private networks, and size doesn’t matter any more.