A VPN concentrator is a server-side tool that helps manage numerous simultaneous remote VPN (virtual private network) connections. The device assigns IP addresses to authenticated users and utilizes cryptographic keys to encrypt/decrypt the transmitted data. As such, these VPN connections create end-to-end encryption for thousands of users, which makes it possible to securely access and transfer data on a large scale.
Because it’s an external device, the VPN concentrator can manage these connections without creating server bottlenecks. Many businesses use VPN concentrators so remote workers can connect to the company network privately from anywhere in the world. Prominent VPN concentrator manufacturers include Cisco, ShoreTel, and HPE.
VPN concentrator vs. VPN router
VPN concentrators are sometimes called VPN routers, and while they serve similar functions, they have entirely different use cases:
A VPN router is most commonly used in small businesses or private settings where very few VPN connections are required. These routers are available for under $100 and can be configured quickly and easily. Most standard wireless routers also support VPN configuration, although they usually only support a limited number of devices.
A VPN concentrator, on the other hand, can easily support 10,000 users at once. Concentrators can cost more than four times as much as a VPN router, which is why they are typically reserved for large corporations, government agencies, or similar organizations.