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With remote work needs ballooning, VPNs have been placed under increased strain, a problem Cameyo Inc. hopes to alleviate with its new NoVPN product.
The virtual application delivery firm's NoVPN product, which enables workers to access internally hosted Windows and web apps without the use of a VPN, can be quickly implemented and provides greater security to companies, according to Cameyo.
A VPN, or virtual private network, lets users connect securely to a private network through the internet. Tech industry observers have noted that VPNs are typically unable to handle a wide swath of a company's workforce; too many connections can overload and crash them.
Industry observers said the NoVPN product represents a good way to provide application access to employees at a time when so many are working from home, although its applicability depends on a company's needs.
A strain on VPNs
Robb Henshaw, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Cameyo, said the COVID-19 pandemic has stressed many corporate VPNs.
"There are a lot of problems that are associated with VPN. That doesn't mean VPN is a bad technology; it just means it's not always the right technology," he said. "Right now, we're seeing some of the cracks, particularly where VPNs don't make sense to utilize."
Eyal Dotan, fellow co-founder and CTO, said some businesses have been forced to implement remote work without being able to provide all of their employees with company-owned devices. As such, those workers could be using personal computers to access needed work applications through VPNs, setting up a possible security breach.
"What we find is VPNs are used in many cases where they shouldn't," he said. "If you're using a personal device, you get into the entire network regardless of whether you have malware [or] ransomware, if your kids played with the computer a couple of hours ago, etc."
Beyond the security concern, Dotan said, VPNs provide access to a variety of corporate resources, such as printers, that employees don't need at this time.
"This is overkill for many cases when employees simply need to access, for example, a web app that is hosted internally," he said.
Remote app access
NoVPN, Dotan said, offers secure access to both Windows desktop and intranet web apps without changing an employee's workflow or requiring an employee to connect to a VPN.
"What we are doing is rendering the corporate app remotely" using Cameyo's Self Hosted service operating on a company Windows server, he said. "What you get is a Windows server within the company, and users -- through a URL -- access the server and can surf within their corporate network."
An employee, Dotan said, could browse the internet in one tab while being securely connected to their corporate application in another.
The product, Cameyo representatives said, is faster to implement than virtual desktops.
"In many cases, remote workers don't necessarily need or want to go into a full VDI; they don't want to switch their whole working environment into a remote one," Dotan said. "In terms of management, it's not a huge project that requires moving all the users' data and applications to a remote environment."
That speed, Henshaw said, is an important benefit for companies looking to rapidly put remote work policies in place. He cited an example of a UK energy company that contacted Cameyo recently, needing to provide 500 employees with access to its billing and customer management systems.
"They were telling us, 'We need it by Monday, at the latest,' and this was on a Friday afternoon," he said. "We were able to give all of [the employees] access within three hours."
With a traditional VDI vendor, Henshaw said, it could take longer than that to negotiate a contract.
Relieving stress, providing access
Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said the ability to empower work-from-home users with access without a VPN is important to companies at this time.
"The last few weeks, [VPNs are] being overwhelmed," he said. "There's limited connectivity and bandwidth of a company's VPN infrastructure, and they're being stressed at the moment. Being able to have a secure connection, with what Cameyo's doing, really takes away that [stress]."
Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said NoVPN addresses a key remote work issue.
"With more of the first-world workforce working from home more than ever, the connectivity to their applications is stretched from both a capacity as well as a security perspective," he said.
Mueller noted, though, that the product is still reliant on a company's available infrastructure.
"[This] first and foremost means an enterprise needs to have the servers to scale a NoVPN environment successfully in-house," he said. "This may work for some, but not for all, enterprises."