An Access Point Name (APN) is primarily a private wireless network offered by wireless operators to their 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 the type of network connection that should be created, appropriate security methods, and ways to connect to the customer’s private network.
Private APNs extend private carrier networks to dispersed corporate branches and connected wireless devices by segregating the data from the public Internet. These are primarily dedicated point-to-point VPNs, requiring both wireline and wireless per customer within the carrier’s private network. Often, dedicated landline VPNs 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 considerable upfront capital expenditure for each new private line installed beside the need to cover recurring operating costs and truck rolls to the customer premise.
Unlike traditional point-to-point VPNs or 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 supportive of multi-tenancy. Essentially, this network is akin to 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 by eliminating the complexity of private mobile APN solutions.
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 and recurring operating costs. Legacy APNs simply do not scale for the edge. 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 of the edge affordable for enterprises while realizing higher economies of scale.