Cloud Migration: How To Have Better VPN Performance After Moving to AWS EC2

Cloud computing is quickly becoming the standard for enterprises looking to scale operations. Mission-critical workloads traditionally allocated to dedicated servers in data centers are now processed by instances running in the cloud, allowing organizations to cut down their IT expenses and eliminate upfront cost, and the complexity of integrating new technologies with existing workloads. There is no doubt that moving data and applications from on-premise data centers to the cloud is a feasible option for businesses to maintain and strengthen their competitive advantage. However, it is not always easy to make a big change to a large and established business because of all the processes, procedures, and quite recently, work arrangements.

This blog highlights particular challenges remote workers face after a migration process to the EC2 and proffers a solution to the identified issues.

What is EC2?

Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is an AWS service offering that allows companies to create virtual instances of their on-premise servers, store data on virtual drives, distribute loads across machines, and scale existing services.

EC2 Cloud Migration: Case Study

When considering your organization’s cloud adoption, you must take into account the people whose workflow will be affected. According to PwC, one of the biggest challenges to adopting cloud technology is the skill gap or lack of expertise. For instance, employees and users may be familiar with the old process, and it could take them significant effort to acclimate to a new system. It can also be that slight changes in operation affect other areas such as accessibility, which could be problematic as business profitability is inadvertently tied to employee’s productivity.

The case study below is a typical example of what we mean:

  • The company has three sites in the US but is looking to expand operations to the UK.
  • Data is currently being migrated to Amazon EC2 with requisite data taking the lead and legacy data hindmost (as their migration plan was devised to guarantee the least disruption).
  • Installed AWS site-to-site VPN to facilitate EC2 server access from the office.

The problem with this process is that remote users are required to use VPN to connect back to the corporate network to access files in EC2 servers as it is deployed within the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Consequently, the speed of access is affected, especially when the VPN has a performance issue.

Other VPN effects on remote working include:

  • VPN requires an active internet connection, a problem for employees that require on-field access to the instance or offline access to files.
  • VPN connections rely on the tunneling of public network traffic, which introduces inherent variability and unpredictability of performance.
  • CDN can’t speed up content redirected from VPN

The goal of a CDN is to serve content to users from the “closest” possible location. This allows content providers to serve content faster. However, because a VPN connects a user to a distant network, they can’t take advantage of the CDN or edge caching.

  • The office network has to be constantly monitored as any interruption could lead to a single point of failure.

Given the current economic environment, implementing a remote working policy has become essential for business. Not just to keep up with trends but also to stay ahead of the competitive market. Tackling the inefficiencies of VPN is one way to start.

How Triofox Fixes the Problem

One way management can facilitate a smooth transitioning is to mirror the existing workflow. In the case study, remote employees wouldn’t have a problem if the remote file access solution mirrored the mapped drive file access experience working within the office perimeter. Triofox can be provisioned for that.

Triofox caters to the contingent or work-from-home workforce by adding mobility and collaboration functionalities to existing file servers while providing a cloud drive letter solution for seamless operability. When used with Amazon’s EC2, it can transform the server into a private cloud file server or a private cloud file sharing solution, where authorized users can easily collaborate across regions and geographical locations. The result is that employees can stay productive on the go without management sacrificing security or convenience.

Other advantages include:

  • No need to route employee traffic through a VPN.

Triofox speeds up access to network shares without Businesses having to go through the trouble of setting up a VPN.

  • Triofox accepts file requests over HTTPS/SSL protocol and transfers (after AD authentication). It leverages the global delivery network (CDN); HTTPS-based protocol can traverse the CDN and speed up access.
  • Connection to EC2 server is independent of the on-premise network. Hence, even if there is network disruption on-site, remote workers are unaffected.
  • Speeds up access to files stored in the virtual server. Its differential upload feature ensures that only changes are synchronized, saving bandwidth and time.
  • Users can access frequently used files without an active connection to be available offline in the case of a limited or slow connection. However, files in the local cache remain encrypted at rest and can only be accessed after successful login. The files are protected with the same protection level as if they are still sitting in the cloud.
  • Provides an interface to simplify direct access to Amazon S3 buckets (when used to backup rarely accessed files in EC2 instances).
  • Employees can collaborate easily by sharing files over the Internet as secure web links. They can also access network server shares through a browser on their mobile device.
  • Remote wipe feature to deprovision compromised devices or users at the end of their contracts.
  • Provides data auditing and reporting features to keep businesses in control of what happens to their data and accountable to regulatory bodies.

Deployment Overview:

  • Install Triofox server agent on the EC2 instance (click here for the complete steps)
  • Install Triofox client agent.

For businesses yet to migrate to the cloud, Triofox simplifies the cloud migration process by integrating AD and NTFS permissions, allowing employees to maintain access to existing file shares. It can be deployed as a hybrid cloud solution, which is suitable for organizations that aren’t prepared to fully migrate to the cloud.

For more information on this solution, schedule a demo.

Triofox Hybrid Cloud Server Solution: Remote Access VPN Alternative for Creative Businesses & Advertising Agencies

The breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic caught the world by surprise and saw businesses adapting innovative solutions to stay afloat during the worldwide lockdown. Remote work, which was a working perk exclusive to certain positions and job titles, became the only working option for most businesses offering what was considered “non-essential” services. These saw organizations scurrying to adapt the fastest remote working options available to risk sinking in the sudden economic downturn caused by the rapid spread of the flu.

Contrary to the suspicions that remote working would take its toll on businesses because of its perceived lack of structure and solitary nature that contrasted with the connectivity and community that in-office collaboration afforded, remote work has proven to be the future of work.

By now, even with the lockdown ease and rollout of the vaccine, most businesses have realized that remote working is not a passing trend, and they must integrate efficient remote working policies into their business operations. Hence, companies must find and adapt long-term scalable solutions for file sharing and synchronized collaboration between remote teams.

In this article, we will focus on the challenges of working remotely using a VPN in the creative industry and share how organizations can extend remote working long-term for improved performance and security, even without a full cloud migration.

VPN to the Rescue…or Not

VPN was seen as the ultimate quick fix for businesses that wanted their employees to access corporate files without risking security. As a result, its popularity skyrocketed, but the challenges manifested as the months wore on.

Here is a play out of the VPN remote access experience by a previous VPN user:

  • Company designs ads for impulse buy products.
  • The workload was multiplied after COVID hit because they deal with online advertising and sales.
  • An increase in workload led to an increased workforce, doubling data output.
  • The company was fine with the sales team working over VPN connections, but not so for their designers, who had to frequently access the photo library stored on the file server. The directory listing took too long to load over VPN, delaying search and sorting through thumbnails – they used most of the adobe’s creative cloud software.
  • Since their photos were all stored in a single photo library (with pictures dating back to 2003) and had several network shares (each 100GB or more), this made work slow and insufferable.
  • In addition, they could not migrate fully to the cloud because of the heavy media files.

VPN, which provides secure access through its encryption and cloaking features, remains what it is, a temporary fix. Its usage for designers in creative agencies can be off-putting. And slower home network speed, which can be a significant bottleneck for remote teams, is further worsened by the dampening bandwidth effect of a VPN. Using InDesign, remote design teams reported significant slowdowns when connecting to their company’s on-prem file server using VPNs. Still, they had to use it because personal or public networks expose the company to cyber threats and attacks.

Although the needs of businesses vary according to industry and size, irrespective of the differentiating limitations, productivity plunge and employee frustration were shared consequences of VPN usage.

Even though business needs vary by industry and size, VPN use has been linked to decreased productivity and employee dissatisfaction.

Other challenges that could affect operations include:

  • There is a higher risk of data corruption due to reduced bandwidth and high latency fluctuations.
  • VPNs lack the granular level of control needed to monitor and control data access.
  • VPNs are a choice target for hackers, and their successful infiltration affects companies engaging their services, as they have to bear the brunt of data breaches.
  • If a uniform corporate VPN network is not set up, employees risk exposing company data through the use of public Wi-Fi or unscrupulous VPN vendors hiding under the guise of free or cheap VPN providers. Even when companies incorporate this, a data compliance breach is inevitable when the company’s data is replicated on the servers of third parties during VPN tunneling.

Securely Access and Share Files Without a VPN

Some businesses opt out of complete cloud server migration because the process can be hectic and could lead to significant workflow disruption when migrating. Large file size, long path names, windows character limitations, and numbers of files per folder (files have to be reorganized to prevent sync issues) are only a few issues affecting cloud migration and sync. And fixing those limitations is resource-intensive. 

Also, most cloud services do not support essential windows server security features such as file locking and permission control. For instance, Adobe Creative Cloud still doesn’t support control permissions for contributors (the horror of having hours’ worth of work overwritten by a two-second update). As explained by a representative, “Currently shared libraries are always writable by all participants.” 

Since server-side edits aren’t supported, the best bet is for designers to work from their local devices and upload to central storage when done. However, for organizations that rely on PSD and heavy media files, a cloud-based environment is sorely expensive.

Businesses in similar situations (firms who choose to keep their on-premises file servers) can take advantage of Triofox. This hybrid cloud server solution enhances the functionalities of file servers by adding mobility, data sharing, and security capabilities. Triofox server solution allows secure remote file access without a VPN.

Benefits of Triofox Hybrid Cloud Server Solution

Businesses can improve the performance and productivity of their staff with corporate data never leaving the server. This is possible as Triofox compliments the security of file servers with the flexibility of cloud storage. Outlined below are other benefits of deploying the Triofox server solution as a VPN alternative:

  • Organizations no longer have to sacrifice security for accessibility or vice versa as Triofox offers the best of both worlds by enhancing the existing file servers with mobile file accessibility and easy file sharing solutions.
  • Organizations can improve the work-from-home experience for their employees by removing VPN bottlenecks.
  • Secure remote access to on-premise file servers eliminates the need for engaging third-party VPN vendors, greatly reducing the risk of a data breach.
  • Triofox secure file sharing solutions make it easy to share large files and collaborate with teams, partners, and clients.
  • Users can easily adapt the Triofox solution because it offers a similar mapped-drive experience, so there’s no disruption to the workflow after deployment.
  • As a VPN alternative, Triofox fixes the scalability, performance, and security issues while providing management features and security tools.

To get started on Triofox, sign up for a free trial or schedule a demo.