July 18, 2024

Azure Virtual Networks vs Azure VPN Gateway

8 min read
Looking to connect your Azure resources securely? Learn about the differences between Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway in this comprehensive guide.
Two interconnected cloud networks

Two interconnected cloud networks

Microsoft Azure offers two networking solutions: Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway. While they both serve the purpose of connecting resources in Azure, they have differences in terms of features, functionality, and pricing. In this article, we will explore the key differences between Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway, their benefits, setting them up and configuring them, troubleshooting common issues and security considerations. Additionally, we will provide some real-world success stories to give a glimpse of how businesses utilize either or both services.

What are Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway?

Azure Virtual Networks, also known as VNETs, are isolated virtual networks that allow organizations to manage and control their virtual machines, applications and services. With Azure Virtual Networks, businesses can define network topology, create subnets, configure IP addresses, and define routing tables, among other features. Azure Virtual Networks can be used to connect Azure resources to each other, or connect them to on-premises networks using a site-to-site VPN connection. Azure VPN Gateway serves as the bridge between virtual networks and the on-premises network. Essentially, it is a VPN service that allows you to securely extend on-premises network services to the cloud. With Azure VPN Gateway, businesses can connect their virtual networks to their on-premises networks through a secure, encrypted tunnel. This provides access to resources such as virtual machines, applications, and services from the on-premises network to Azure, and vice versa.

One of the key benefits of using Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway is the ability to create a hybrid cloud environment. This means that businesses can use a combination of on-premises resources and cloud resources to meet their computing needs. By connecting their on-premises network to Azure using Azure VPN Gateway, businesses can take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the cloud while still maintaining control over their data and applications. Additionally, Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway provide a high level of security, with features such as network isolation, encryption, and access control, ensuring that data is protected both in transit and at rest.

Key differences between Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway

The biggest difference between these two services is that Azure Virtual Networks create isolated virtualized infrastructures for your Azure resources, while Azure VPN Gateway is a VPN service that extends your local networks to the cloud. Azure Virtual Networks can provide enhanced network performance and isolation, while Azure VPN Gateway enables secure and seamless connectivity between an on-premises network and resources in Azure.

Azure Virtual Networks do not directly expose publicly accessible endpoints, while the Azure VPN Gateway does. This means that while Virtual Networks offer a higher level of security, businesses that require remote access to their resources would require Azure VPN Gateway to satisfy their needs.

Another notable difference is in pricing. Azure Virtual Networks are priced based on the number of IP addresses, while Azure VPN Gateway is priced based on the hourly usage or data transferred across the border.

It is important to note that Azure Virtual Networks can be used to connect multiple Azure regions, while Azure VPN Gateway can only connect to a single region. This means that if your business requires resources in multiple regions, Azure Virtual Networks would be the better option for connecting them. However, if your business only requires resources in a single region, Azure VPN Gateway may be a more cost-effective solution.

Understanding the benefits of Azure Virtual Networks

Azure Virtual Networks provide organizations with a high degree of control over their network topology, traffic routing and security policies. By creating multiple subnets within a virtual network, businesses can isolate different deployments and applications within a network, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. Additionally, businesses can control inbound and outbound traffic rules (firewalls and routing tables) using network security groups and route tables to manage which resources have connection rights to other resources.

Azure Virtual Networks also offer a high level of flexibility, allowing organizations to deploy their resources in a way that is most beneficial to their unique requirements. Virtual Networks support a variety of connection methods, including point-to-site, site-to-site and ExpressRoute to cater to differing scenarios.

Another benefit of Azure Virtual Networks is the ability to connect multiple virtual networks together, creating a hybrid network environment. This allows businesses to extend their on-premises network to the cloud, providing a seamless and secure connection between the two. Additionally, virtual networks can be connected to other Azure services, such as Azure App Service or Azure Virtual Machines, enabling businesses to create a fully integrated and scalable solution.

Furthermore, Azure Virtual Networks offer advanced monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities, allowing businesses to quickly identify and resolve network issues. Network Watcher, a built-in Azure service, provides a range of tools for monitoring and diagnosing network traffic, including packet capture, flow logs, and connection troubleshooting. This helps businesses to maintain a high level of network performance and availability, ensuring that their applications and services are always accessible to their users.

Understanding the benefits of Azure VPN Gateway

Azure VPN Gateway is ideal for businesses that have hybrid environments, and need to set up secure and encrypted connections between their on-premises networks and Azure resources. With its seamless and quick setup, businesses can easily set up secure site-to-site or point-to-site connections with VPN Gateway, making it a preferred option for remote workers. Azure VPN Gateway provides businesses with a high level of security, as data transferred over the internet is encrypted using the latest security protocols, ensuring that organizations can safely transfer sensitive data.

In addition to its security benefits, Azure VPN Gateway also offers businesses the flexibility to scale their VPN connections as needed. This means that businesses can easily add or remove VPN connections based on their changing needs, without having to worry about any additional setup or configuration. Furthermore, Azure VPN Gateway is highly available, with built-in redundancy and failover capabilities, ensuring that businesses can maintain their VPN connections even in the event of a failure. Overall, Azure VPN Gateway is a reliable and secure solution for businesses looking to connect their on-premises networks with Azure resources.

Comparing pricing for Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway

Azure Virtual Networks are priced based on the number of IP addresses purchased, with a minimum of 256 addresses required. The cost of a Basic virtual network with 256 IP addresses in the US East region costs $19.36 per month, while the same virtual network with Standard service tier costs $59.34 per month (as of September 2021).

For Azure VPN Gateway, pricing is dependent on the usage, which can be hourly or data transferred across the border. The Basic tier starts at $0.05 per hour and $0.05 per GB processed, while the VpnGw1 tier (1 Gbps throughput) costs $0.17 per hour and $0.10 per GB processed (prices as per Microsoft azure as of September 2021).

How to set up and configure an Azure Virtual Network

Setting up an Azure Virtual Network requires several steps, including defining IP address spaces, creating subnets, creating network security groups (NSG) and route tables. Organizations will also need to deploy resources such as virtual machines, load balancers, or virtual gateways to the virtual network. To set up an Azure Virtual Network, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Azure portal
  2. Select “Create a Resource” and navigate to the Networking category
  3. Select “Virtual Network” and fill in the IP address space and subnet information
  4. Create network security groups to apply firewall settings
  5. Deploy resources to your Virtual Network

How to set up and configure an Azure VPN Gateway

Set up and configuring Azure VPN Gateway can be done within minutes. Below are steps to set it up:

  1. Log in to your Azure portal
  2. Select “Create a Resource” and navigate to the Networking category
  3. Select “VPN Gateway” from the “Create a resource” page
  4. Fill in the necessary information including the subscription, resource group, and region
  5. Select the gateway SKU: Basic or High Performance
  6. Select the Virtual Network and the gateway subnet to use for the VPN Gateway
  7. Create a public IP address to view the VPN Gateway
  8. Configure the connection between the on-premises network and the Azure VPN Gateway

Best practices for using Azure Virtual Networks in your organization

To make the most out of Azure Virtual Networks, organizations need to deploy best practices that optimize connectivity, efficiency and security. These best practices include designating IP address spaces, limiting access to specific IP addresses or ranges, creating custom routing tables, and configuring automatic restarts for virtual machines, among others. Additionally, businesses should keep track of their resource usage to avoid unnecessary costs. For more information on best practices, visit Azure documentation.

Best practices for using Azure VPN Gateway in your organization

When using Azure VPN Gateway, businesses need to prioritize security, speed and performance. These can be achieved by utilizing the best practices such as integrating Azure Active Directory for secure authentication, utilizing ExpressRoute connections for better network performance, and configuring VPN Gateway to support P2S and S2S connection types.

How to troubleshoot common issues with Azure Virtual Networks

While Azure Virtual Networks offer a reliable and secure way to connect Azure resources, organizations may encounter issues such as connectivity problems, DNS resolution issues, performance problems among others. To troubleshoot common issues with Azure Virtual Networks, businesses should check whether they have correctly set up their routing tables, firewall settings, and network security groups. In addition, reviewing routing tables and virtual machine logs can provide insight into the root cause of issues.

How to troubleshoot common issues with Azure VPN Gateway

Issues with Azure VPN Gateway include connectivity issues, slow performance, and authentication errors may occur. Troubleshooting these problems typically requires troubleshooting network configuration, ensuring that network routing is correct, and checking event logs. Additionally, reviewing Azure VPN Gateway settings can identify misconfigurations that can lead to issues.

Security considerations when using Azure Virtual Networks

When using Azure Virtual Networks, security should be a top priority. Businesses should follow best practices such as setting up network security groups to control inbound and outbound traffic flow, configuring custom routes and applying Azure monitoring features to detect potential vulnerabilities. Additionally, organizations should keep their security policies and access controls up to date and ensure the network architecture is up to industry standards.

Security considerations when using Azure VPN Gateway

Security considerations when using Azure VPN Gateway include utilizing policies for traffic filtering, enforcing secure routing, requiring stronger authentication mechanisms and ensuring encryption for data transfers. Additionally, organizations should keep their cybersecurity policies up to date and monitor network traffic logs regularly.

Success stories: Real-world examples of businesses using either or both services

Futurae Technologies, a Swiss-based two-factor authentication provider, uses Azure Virtual Network to manage multiple Virtual machines, store data and deploy applications on Azure while maintaining privacy to their databases. SAI Global, a leading provider of cloud-based risk management solutions, uses Azure VPN Gateway to connect their sites across the globe securely.

Conclusion

While both Azure Virtual Networks and Azure VPN Gateway provide networking solutions for Azure resources, their features, pricing and functionality may make one option more attractive than the other depending on an organization’s requirements. By understanding their key differences, benefits, setup and security considerations, businesses can choose the service that best supports their needs while ensuring their Microsoft Azure environment is secure, scalable and optimized for performance.

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