With more people are now looking to work at home regularly, access point (AP) or WiFi tunnelling provides a fast, reliable way to connect home workers with their central office, and makes an ideal alternative to more complex VPN set ups, says Patrick Hirscher, EMEA Wireless Market Development Manager at Zyxel.
During this unprecedented time, many more people have got used to the idea of working at home. Their experiences have shown them that they be just as, if not more productive, and that they can communicate more frequently and effectively with colleagues, teams, partners, customers, and suppliers when they do.
But to work from home effectively you need a fast, reliable, secure connection back into your central IT network. Usually, the solution here will be a virtual private network (VPN). Zyxel offers VPN appliances specifically to provide this functionality, and you will not be at all surprised to hear that these have been immensely popular just recently.
However, a VPN will not always be the ideal solution. The set-up for a VPN process can be a little complicated and for some home users, that can be daunting and time-consuming. The time of IT support staff will be taken up with troubleshooting problems. Users will also need to learn how to log-on and navigate their way through the VPN tunnel. They will need some training and support.
There can be issues with some ISPs and home routers – usually because the provider has set up its service to allow only certain types of traffic and protocols. Whatever the reason, if a VPN is unsuitable for a home user, access point (AP) tunnelling – or WiFi tunnelling as it is also known – can provide an excellent and uncomplicated alternative.
With AP tunnelling, you simply have an access point that is set up in advance to connect you to the central IT system. All you have to do is plug it into your home router and connect to the relevant SSID, i.e. the WiFi network that has been made available by your IT department on the access point. This may even be the same SSID that you would normally connect to when you are at work.
The AP tunnelling function will do the rest, giving the user a fast, reliable, and secure connection back into the corporate network, through which they can access data, applications, and services as normal, without any special procedures or knowledge.
An AP tunnelling solution is much easier for the home user – and it is also faster than a VPN connection, so it will definitely help them to be as productive as possible. The connection will use the same IP address as the one used in the workplace and provide the user with exactly the same experience. The level of security it provides is good – not quite at the same level as a VPN, but definitely good enough to meet the requirements of most organisations. All traffic will also pass through a security gateway at the other end, so that will provide excellent protection against infiltration or other potential threats.
AP tunnelling is supported by several Zyxel products that you would use at either end of the connections. For the home device, you can use the WAC6500 Series, the WAC6303D-S or our very latest WiFi6 device, the WAX650S. At the network end, AP tunnelling connections are supported by Zyxel’s USG Series of unified security gateways, by the Zyxel ATP Series of advanced threat protection appliances, and buy the Zyxel VPN Series.
There are, in other words, plenty of options to choose from, so you should have no problem in finding the right solution for any requirement. AP tunnelling can be set up swiftly and simply without any need for users to undergo any training. The connection will be fast, reliable, and secure, and it will give users exactly the same experience they would get in the office.
For individuals who are going to be working at home on a regular basis over the long term, AP tunnelling provides the ideal remote connection to the office.