Businesses of all types utilize VPN software solutions to provide remote access to their employees. How do we quantify the true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of supporting VPN software? Why is TCO Important?
Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com) defines TCO as the total cost of using and maintaining an IT investment over time. TCO calculations include a combination of direct costs (hardware, software acquisition, management and support) and indirect costs (end-user training and downtime). TCO is often overlooked and unbudgeted, presenting an incomplete projection of overall IT costs.
Most organizations look at their direct costs and setup labor only at the time of purchase. However, research shows that a system’s software & hardware costs typically represents less than 20% of its TCO, with ongoing technical support, maintenance and labor costs accounting for the remaining 80%. These ongoing VPN Software support costs represent the largest piece of the TCO pie and should therefore warrant the highest levels of scrutiny.
Consider the following chart that demonstrates the potential annual costs of supporting VPN clients for 1000 Users:
Hardware/Software and Labor Support Direct Costs:
- Hardware & VPN Software Costs: A business of 1000 employees can expect to pay between $6000-$8000 for a dedicated VPN device with a hot spare + Annual Maintenance.
- VPN Software Setup Costs: For large enterprises VPN services can take up to 40 Hours for procurement, basic setup and deployment.
- Ongoing Maintenance: VPN Devices require continual updating and refinement – expect ongoing maintenance, after hours updating and security patching.
- User Support: Plan on providing technical support time to setup VPN Software on end user devices at a minimum of 30-60 Minutes per device with basic training for initial setup and an average of 15 Minutes/User per month for ongoing support.
- Two Factor: Add costs for supporting various two factor solutions – Some solutions allow use of third party services (at an additional cost), requiring additional configuration while others such as Microsoft VPN can utilize machine certificates which require additional support hours to manage and setup.
Potential Indirect Costs:
- Internal Systems open to potential compromise – By default, an end user’s Windows network is routed through the office VPN network. As a result, this leaves the internal network open to Malware such as Crypto Locker and exposes the network up cyber security threats.
- IPsec type VPN’s are blocked at many locations resulting in calls to the help desk to resolve connectivity issues and results in lost employee productivity.
- Minor network fluctuations can disconnect the VPN clients potentially corrupting open files resulting in support costs for restores and lost work.
- The IT Department will need to maintain an additional fleet of corporate laptops with VPN pre-configured for each potential remote user.
Browser Based VPN Alternatives
Techtarget.com encourages companies to consider Web Based VPN Software Alternatives – “Browser-based remote access services offer both cost and ease-of-use advantages. Web browsers are already present on nearly every computing device, public or private, large or small. Web-based solutions use this browser and dynamically downloaded code to avoid installing and configuring VPN client software on the worker’s device. This approach facilitates remote access from just about anywhere and can significantly reduce per-user VPN administration costs. Savings are even greater for companies that eliminate corporate laptops by leveraging existing desktops for Web-based remote access.”
MyWorkDrive.com’s browser based file access software helps companies reduce their VPN support costs while reducing their security exposure risks. User’s simply open a browser to access their work files using their existing Windows Active Directory credentials. Once logged in they can access company shares, home drives and edit/view documents online. For security all MyWorkDrive clients also support DUO Two Factor authentication. Even if only half of a company’s employees are directed to use MyWorkDrive’s Browser Based File Access client they can achieve annual savings of up to 50% while improving security.