An Access Point Name (APN) is primarily a private wireless network offered by wireless operators to its enterprise customers. Specifically, APN is frequently used as the name of a gateway between a GSM, GPRS, 3G, or 4G mobile network and another computer network, frequently the public Internet.

A mobile device making a data connection must be configured with an APN to present to the mobile operator. The operator examines the credentials to determine what type of network connection that should be created, appropriate security methods and ways to connect to the customer’s private network.

What Isn’t Working

Private APNs extend private carrier networks to dispersed corporate branches and connected wireless devices by segregating the data from the public Internet. It is primarily a dedicated point-to-point VPN, both wireline and wireless are required per customer within the carrier’s private network side. Often, a dedicated landline VPN such as MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) circuits and carrier-approved customer premise equipment (CPE) are also required to connect to the last mile from the carrier network. For every such dedicated setup per customer, carriers need to configure the APN on the wireless network and manually provision a VPN to the customers’ data center. Thus, APNs involve considerably upfront capital expenditure per new private line installed besides the need to cover recurring operating costs and truck rolls to the customer premise.

The Way Going Forward

Unlike traditional point-to-point VPNs/ private APNs, enterprises are feeling the need for a new type of network that can easily and securely run over the public Internet with minimal upfront or recurring cost. Such a network must be agnostic to the last mile connectivity types as well as multi-cloud friendly and supports multi-tenancy. Essentially, this network gives the look and feel of a global virtual LAN that seamlessly scales with built-in encryption, identity/access management (IAM), monitoring/ tracking and traffic orchestration. Besides, the network can self-isolate depending on user needs while remaining invisible to the rest of the public Internet. Such a network should ideally be able to support devices to be programmable over the air in real time. Naturally this approach helps drastically reduce both capital expenditure and recurring operating expenditure due to eliminating the complexity of the private mobile APN solutions.

Key Takeaway

Industrial enterprises with dispersed assets and diverse data sources are increasingly realizing that relying on dedicated private wireless VPNs, simply called APNs, is not economically feasible because of sizable upfront cost and recurring operating cost. Legacy APNs do not simply scale for machines, things, devices, sensors and so on. Instead, what the digital enterprise of tomorrow needs is an identity-centric, network security based model that is akin to a global virtual LAN that makes assets invisible from the public Internet. This model makes the remote access security and connectivity needs to the dispersed networks of things and machines affordable for enterprises while realizing much higher economies of scale.

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