Mobile VPNs for Enterprises of All Sizes

More than a third of the workforce will be mobile by 2015. We spoke to Alcatel-Lucent's Jan Vandenhoudt to learn how an Enterprise Services Gateway can be deployed to provide persistent, reliable, and secure mobile access to enterprise services and applications.

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By next year, more than a third of the world’s workforce will be mobile – that’s about 1.3 billion people. So it’s no surprise that enterprises of all sizes can see that productivity will grow if their workforce is always connected to key business applications and cloud-based services, like sales force automation and customer relationship management.

Many mobile network operators (MNOs) already offer this mobile VPN service – but they are only reaching large enterprises. What if there was a solution that allowed MNOs to provide persistent, secure and reliable mobile access to businesses of all sizes – opening up new markets and new revenue streams?

Deploying an Enterprise Mobile Gateway (EMG) makes it possible, and in an efficient and cost effective way.

The ESG approach simplifies the network and ultimately streamlines the operational and provisioning model. This makes it feasible to extend the mobile VPN service to small- and mid-sized enterprises for the first time. In fact, a Bell Labs study has shown there are dramatic reductions to OPEX and CAPEX – including significant revenue advantages – with this ESG-based solution.

Mobile VPNs: Stakeholder requirements

There are several requirements that need to be met across enterprise employees, the IT department and the MNO in order to optimize the effectiveness of a mobile VPN service.

What the employee needs:

  • High speed access to key business applications with high availability
  • Persistency of connection without constant re-authentication and log-ins
  • Multi-device flexibility, i.e. access from any tablet or smart phone

What the IT department needs:

  • Secure access, secure content
  • Easy device management and asset tracking
  • Flexible reporting and billing

What the MNO needs:

  • Flexible service definition within existing framework
  • Simple implementation model  that scales from small to large enterprises
  • Simplified operations including end-to-end service assurance, SLA monitoring, and traffic engineering

Architectural Change

To enable this emerging business reality, MNOs will need to change their data service architecture to augment their traditional fixed-line VPN access to include persistent, secure and reliable cellular and Wi-Fi VPN access to these applications and services.

The challenge for operators is that their fixed-line VPN infrastructure is often separate from their cellular infrastructure, so integration is not trivial. On top of that, they must also integrate requirements for their evolving Wi-Fi infrastructure.

For very large enterprises this extensive “traditional” integration effort may be worthwhile. To provide this service to small- to mid-sized enterprises a different, more cost-effective and scalable integration solution is required. That’s where the Enterprise Mobile Gateway can help.

Deploying the Enterprise Mobile Gateway

At the foundation of the ESG is an IP/MPLS router that has massive scalability, high performance, and carrier grade resiliency for VPN services, and is also able to function as a mobile gateway. This unique combination of capabilities allows the ESG to concurrently replace the Mobile Gateway (PGW, GGSN), PE Router, and Border Gateway. This enables it to span across divisional boundaries (IP/MPLS VPN infrastructure and mobile). As such, the ESG operates as a single multi-functional converged router that greatly simplifies the network.

The diagram below shows how this would look architecturally.

Enterprise Services Gateway operates as a single multi-functional converged router to offer Mobile VPN

This approach not only provides cost and revenue advantages for the MNO, but it also opens new markets to include small- and mid-sized enterprises that may not have been candidates for this service in the past.

Benefits of the ESG approach:

  • Massive scalability, high performance and carrier grade resiliency for essential IP/MPLS VPN functions
  • Simplified network and streamlined operational and provisioning model by replacing several network elements with a single element, while collapsing divisional boundaries
  • Automated service provisioning to create a scalable service that enables MNOs to extend the service offer beyond just large enterprises to small- and mid-sized enterprises

Bell Labs Study

Bell Labs has studied this architecture and determined that there are dramatic reductions to OPEX and CAPEX with this solution over the traditional approach.

In fact, over a five-year timeline the study showed that the new approach is two times less expensive in terms of CAPEX and 10 times less expensive in terms of OPEX.

The study also determined that deploying the Enterprise Mobile Gateway approach allows the MNO to offer services more quickly and with higher reliability, which translates to a much higher revenue potential.

It’s entirely possible today to empower enterprises of all sizes with converged mobile VPN access to application and cloud-based services. And deploying the ESG approach can simplify the network and improve cost structure. For more information on this study read the new Mobile VPN Access with Enterprise Mobile Gateway application note.


Find out more about Alcatel-Lucent IP Mobile Core solutions.Read the Mobile VPN Access with Enterprise Mobile Gateway application note.

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