Once upon a time, VPNs offered a simple way to connect a few remote users to corporate networks for brief periods of time. As workforces became more distributed, however — and organizations needed to keep remote users securely connected for longer periods of time — the flaws in this approach became evident, from sluggish performance and increased security risks to scalability concerns.
As remote access needs grow, organizations are increasingly shifting away from traditional VPN implementations and toward more secure and performant remote access solutions. Zero Trust network access, or ZTNA, creates secure boundaries around specific applications, private IPs and hostnames, replacing default-allow VPN connections with default-deny policies that grant access based on identity and context.
In 2020, approximately 5% of all remote access usage was predominantly served by ZTNA. Due to the limitations of traditional VPN access and the need to deliver more precise access and session control, that number is expected to jump to 40% by 2024.
While ZTNA offers enterprises several clear advantages — and expanded functionalities — over VPNs, many organizations have found it an incomplete replacement for VPN infrastructure. But as ZTNAs become more robust and VPNs become more problematic, that’s changing fast. This paper contrasts VPNs and ZTNA remote access solutions to illuminate their benefits and limitations, while shedding light on the most important considerations for migration projects. It explains how Cloudflare offers ZTNA, and recommends a set of action steps for transitioning legacy VPN infrastructure to faster and safer Zero Trust connectivity for remote users.