Businesses were the driving force behind the invention of VPNs. Companies were worried about the safety of their communication and the feasibility of connecting remote workplaces. Thus, the advent of PPTP (point-to-point protocol) was a godsend not only for corporates but also for the VPN industry of today. However, VPNs have long since permeated the internet security market. Also, they are the go-to tech when it comes to the networking needs of a company.
A VPN has numerous implementations, however, most businesses only use two types of VPNs. Those are a remote access VPN for a temporary network and a site-to-site VPN as a permanent solution. S2S VPNs connect physical offsite locations to an onsite server. Thus, it creates a WAN (Wide Area Network) with a central authority. However, an S2S VPN can also entertain external factors. That is what we call an Extranet-based site-to-site VPN, and is also the topic of this article. Let’s get into it.
Extranet-based Site-to-site VPN Definition
Extranet-based VPNs are networks that link multiple companies. They materialize the internal network for shared use and refer to a network within an organization that uses the internet to connect to outsiders in a controlled manner. It connects businesses with their customers and suppliers and therefore allows working collaboratively. However, an extranet-based VPN is not inclusive at all. Sure, it shares access with multiple interested parties, but it keeps the resources separate. Thus, it creates a platform for a business to facilitate communication with third parties in a shared network without compromising internal resources.
Furthermore, an extranet VPN is not reliant on the public internet. It can also use another private network for communication. MPLS VPNs are an example of extranet VPNs using MPLS (MultiProtocol Label Switching) for communication. Although, they both function the same way. That is a joint terminal for the relevant parties to a corporate, be it clients, partners, suppliers, or customers.
Types of Extranet site-to-site Virtual Private Network
When the connecting networks belong to different companies, the combined VPN is extranet-based. However, there are numerous ways for an External VPN to work. This depends on the underlying security protocols, the network used for communication, or the points of connections. Thus, we can conclude: based on implementations, there are three types of extranet-based site-to-site VPNs. While they all offer the same service, how they operate and how much they cost, differs from type to type. Although site-to-site VPNs are different from remote access VPNs, they can be combined to mitigate each other’s faults.
However, we can implement both extranet and Intranet in the same ways:
When extranet VPNs use the IPsec suite of protocols to initiate tunneling and facilitate key exchange, they are called IPsec VPNs. But an IPsec VPN works in the same way for both remote and S2S VPNs. Though, for extranet-networks, it uses VPN routers to connect multiple sites. Thus, it is also called a router-to-router VPN.
Dynamic Multipoint VPN solves the scalability issue often seen in IPsec VPNs. A DM VPN allows physical sites to connect to a DM VPN HUB (router) using Dynamic public IP addresses. It used the HUB and spoke design to ensure that data travels between the central network and branches instead of going from site to site.
L3VPN (MPLS VPN)
Layer 3 VPN utilizes a private network for communication instead of a public one used by the previous examples. Since it uses the MPLS network, we can also call it MPLS VPN. It guarantees the quality of service as MPLS can route data packets across a network via any transport medium (fiber, satellite, or microwave, for example) and any protocol. Also, this VPN operates at the OSI layer 3, hence the name L3VPN.
Extranet versus Intranet: What’s the Difference?
Extranet and Intranet VPNs are both site-to-site VPNs that adopt the traditional outlook of implementing a virtual tunnel across a public network to connect multiple physical offices. However, both are different in their functions and goals. Although Site-to-site VPNs are now almost obsolete, a few points separate them from extranet VPNs.
|Extranet VPNs||Intranet VPNs|
|It targets external elements.||It is useful for internet management and staff.|
|Extranet VPN shares resources with outsiders.||Internal employees use it to exchange resources.|
|The architecture allows sharing of the internal network with external factors.||The closed architecture makes it impossible for outsiders to gain access.|
|It works as the extension of a company’s internal network.||It can only support internal communication.|
Advantages of Extranet-based Site-to-site VPN
There are certain advantages to Extranet-based S2S VPNs. They are a specific implementation that works in tandem with external corporates. Furthermore, they lessen the workload on the internal network. Since Extranet-based site-to-site VPNs cater to multiple factors, their benefit also tends to go outwards, such as:
- For employees:
- Effective sales
- Increase in productivity
- Online tracking and monitoring
- Easy facilitation of Customer support
- For business partners:
- Easy collaboration
- Improvement in procurement
- Access to a virtual market
- Quick roll-outs
- Regarding suppliers and vendors:
- Supply chain integration
- One-click sales database
- A platform for web-based EDI
- Access to invoice
- For customers:
- Real-time information
- Channel management
- Better customer support
- Better order tracking
Disadvantages of Extranet-based Site-to-site VPN
Although site-to-site VPNs are akin to the setting sun, many businesses still rely on the traditional approach to manage and connect their remote workplace. But there are specific disadvantages to an S2S or extranet-based S2S VPNs that warrant the degradation of this tech. Given below are a few such disadvantages:
- Hosting — Hosting the pages on a preowned server will shoot up the cost of the VPN itself. However, hosting them with an ISP increases the risk of intrusion. Furthermore, there is the issue of sharing resources with the central authority that can generate enough computing power to aid the Extranet network.
- Security — A VPN has always struggled on the topic of access. VPNs can safeguard against external threats. However, anyone with access can theoretically use the resources of the company. If you share access with external factors, your network is at risk.
- Access — An internet connection is a must for an extranet-based network. While you can easily facilitate and manage an Intranet network, you need the internet to access the Extranet one.
- Decrease in interaction — Overindulgence or reliance on the extranet-based network gradually lowers human interaction, a staple for business. You can lose touch with clients, partners, suppliers, and customers. Thus, people advocate moderation while practicing Extranet S2S VPNs.