As I travel around the world, I stay connected via WiFi, EVDO, EDGE, Broadband, and dialup. I'm often roaming from place to place on low speed networks, switching from WiFi to EDGE, and having to close all applications, VPN sessions, and even reboot as I travel to ensure robust application functionality.
What is a mobile VPN? It's a VPN solution engineered to deal with the reality of wireless networks such as wireless security, coverage gaps and performance.
The technology consists of a server behind the firewall in the DMZ of your data center and a small laptop client application.
Whenever you login remotely, the Mobility XE server establishes a virtual IP address for your VPN session and persists this session for as long as you need it. With a persistent session, applications believe your IP is constant even if you switch networks, lose signal or hibernate your laptop. Mobility XE's InterNetwork Roaming is tightly integrated with network persistence, application session persistence and single sign-on authentication so that users do not lose application sessions or have to re-login when they traverse networks, go in and out of network range, or suspend and resume their devices.
It also works across VLANs on an intranet, so a mobile computer on wheels can connect to applications anywhere in the hospital without requiring a reboot or new login.
Additionally, the Mobility product comes with the ability to specify granular policies associated by system, application, user, or network address range. This provides the ability to do quality of service or restrict certain applications to a given address space. For example we can restrict high bandwidth applications from running while on WiFi in a clinical area but when moving into an office area allow the applications as there would be no clinical impact.
In the past at BIDMC, we implemented GRE tunneling and Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) components to enable roaming, but these are complex and have significant management overhead. A mobile VPN provides a more robust roaming experience while simplifying network architecture and administration. That's why it's the cool technology of the week.