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How VPN providers can use edge compute and networking services to scale

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How VPN providers can use edge compute and networking services to scale

By David Xie, Chief Product Officer, Zenlayer

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have emerged as a critical enabling tool for today’s distributed organizations and internet users. Roughly one-third of all internet users now use a VPN to protect personal data — a figure that’s bound to increase in the coming years due to rampant cybercrime and privacy concerns.

Opportunities abound for VPN providers that can meet this surging demand quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively, especially in high-growth emerging markets which offer massive growth potential like Indonesia, India, the UAE, Thailand, and China.

Reaching customers in these markets can prove to be challenging due to heavy regulatory barriers, connectivity gaps, a lack of infrastructure, and higher operating costs. In this post, we’ll explore why scaling VPN services can be challenging, and how VPN providers can overcome hurdles by leveraging private edge compute and networking services.

Why it’s difficult to scale a VPN service

The traditional approach to expanding a VPN requires scaling either vertically or horizontally — and both pose significant challenges.

  • Scaling up vertically: This involves upgrading and replacing servers to the latest specifications for optimal performance per server.
  • Scaling out horizontally: Scaling out horizontally by adding more servers to your current infrastructure to accommodate peak user loads.

Vertical and horizontal scaling is costly and time-consuming. It can take years to build a private and high-performing global network that spans large geographical distances. Plus, it can also require additional ongoing maintenance, which can further tax teams that are already dealing with resource constraints.

The solution: Infrastructure provider offering global, private edge compute and networking services

For VPN providers who don’t find cost efficiencies in scaling horizontally or vertically, another option exists. They can instead choose to work with a third-party infrastructure enabler offering private, high-quality compute and networking services at the edge of the network — meaning close to end users in strategic markets.

By outsourcing network and compute operations, VPN providers can instantly scale into global markets and serve new VPN customers. This option eliminates costly and complex builds and provides instant access to on-demand resources.

Top benefits of private edge compute and networking

Improved performance: A VPN infrastructure provider can provide expertise and partnerships in various regions around the world. This makes it far easier to ensure performance and stability in overseas markets.

Plus, working with an edge cloud provider can reduce long distance data transmissions — meaning faster data transfers, with fewer performance issues like latency and jitter.

Enhanced security: Working with a third-party infrastructure provider can grant access to premium bare metal and virtual machines (VM), which can in turn enhance VPN security and help scale more safely. In addition, deploying compute at the edge of the network can reduce the overall distance between where user traffic originates and the VPN server, minimizing the chances of interceptions, intrusions, and other malicious acts. Furthermore, a VPN service likely deals with highly sensitive user data that often include identity and financial information, login credentials, and online activity history. Private networking solutions can shield that data from unauthorized access and prying eyes by providing a secure and isolated environment for your VPN traffic.

Ease the burden of maintenance: Maintaining business infrastructure can be costly and time-consuming, especially if your VPN service employs many servers spread out across multiple locations.

By leveraging edge compute products, you can quickly deploy a highly distributed network that is both easy to monitor and painless to manage. Plus, when your infrastructure is hosted in edge bare metal or VMs, you won’t need to worry about fixing, updating, or replacing physical hardware. This also helps you free up resources in funds and personnel that would otherwise go into on-site maintenance and repairs.

Lower operating costs: Bandwidth is expensive, but by outsourcing operations, you can leverage flexible pricing models. This can help to trim the fat and maximize your budget.

When searching for a provider, it helps to work with a company that will give you plenty of options. For example, you should be able to select from paying a flat fee for bandwidth, or other options like monthly aggregate bandwidth and data transfer pricing.

  • Aggregate bandwidth pricing helps you balance between underutilized and overutilized servers to eliminate bandwidth waste and make the most of your bandwidth spend.
  • Data transfer lets you pay for what you use.

The key takeaway here is that while scaling a VPN may be challenging, it is a must-do and there are good ways to do it. Working with a reliable infrastructure provider can help you reach new customers in global markets, while improving security and reliability. It can also save money when compared scaling vertically or horizontally.

About the author

David Xie is the Chief Product Officer of Zenlayer. He leads the Product Management and Development (PMD) Organization, including Cloud Product Management Center, Cloud Product Development, and Product Marketing & Partnership. Before joining Zenlayer, David was Group Vice President of Digital Products at Gartner. While at Gartner, he held multiple leadership roles with responsibilities for product management, corporate strategy, data science, sales enablement, and digital transformation. Prior to Gartner, he also worked as a Management Consultant at McKinsey, an IT Architect at Openwave, and as a founder of multiple start-ups.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (

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