The Return of Investment for Virtual Private Networks

Posted by Sabrina Sturm Thu, 06 Dec 2012 07:45:00 GMT

As with all technology solutions, IT teams are eager to determine the ROI of their VPN strategy and architecture. This is typically driven by CFOs determined to get a better handle on the company’s technology investment, as well as the IT teams themselves, who want to ensure the choices they’ve made are meeting employees’ needs.

ROI metrics should reflect the objectives of incorporating VPN technology into the network in the first place.  Is it simply to facilitate employees working from home?  Supporting a sales team typically working away from the office? Load balancing among servers located all over the world to ensure high availability of data? Protecting information from computer viruses and cyber attacks?

In addition to these corporate goals, IT teams should determine ROI based on their own ease of installation, maintenance and operation.

In developing an ROI model, IT teams should remember the “perfect is the enemy of the good” axiom.  Developing a simple model that is easy to implement and captures 80-90 percent of ROI is typically more helpful than a highly-complex model that requires a lot of time but captures closer to 100 percent of ROI. 

IT teams can collaborate with their accounting counterparts to develop relatively simple approaches to measure ROI. For example, if the corporate objective is to facilitate employees working from home, the model might include time saved by avoiding commuting and the ability to reassign employees’ office space to other employees. 

If the objective is to support a sales team working away from the office, the IT team can create a model that includes reducing the sales cycle by providing necessary information to prospects faster and the ability to complete more sales calls in a day based on downloading information faster. 

When it comes to IT teams determining the ROI of implementation, maintenance, etc., we suggest focusing on three metrics:

  • Resources to implement – When deploying new VPN solutions, IT teams should evaluate the resources required to implement the new solution in terms of costs, IT resources required, possible downtime to the network, and related factors
  • Resources to manage – Similarly, what is the cost and time commitment to manage the VPN architecture on a daily basis. What tools does the VPN vendor offer to facilitate management?
  • Cost to operate – Many vendors are introducing servers, routers and other hardware that require less electricity and produce less heat than the products they replace.  IT teams should ask VPN vendors about potential cost savings due to energy efficiency.

In a period where companies of all sizes are managing their budgets tightly, IT teams must consider developing ROI metrics to ensure they are receiving the highest value per dollar for their investments.

I’d appreciate hearing from you about any metrics your organizations use to handle ROI for VPN technology.

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