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A client recently mentioned using a VPN consolidator for remote access to their server. I've never heard this term used before. Is it some type of slang that I'm not familiar with? I did a bit of searching and I came up completely empty.

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"Concentrator," maybe? –  Shane Madden Jun 3 '11 at 19:25
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Maybe they meant "VPN concentrator". –  joeqwerty Jun 3 '11 at 19:26
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@Shane Madden: Curses! You beat me to the punch. –  joeqwerty Jun 3 '11 at 19:26
    
I'm not familiar with that either...What would that be? What is it used for? –  Nate Jun 3 '11 at 19:27

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Best guess: They used "VPN Consolidator" as a synonym for "VPN Concentrator". There is no hard'n'fast definition of a VPN concentrator either; it's generally just a device which is dedicated to being endpoint for (many) VPNs.

Say you had a good DMZ & dual firewall setup that is working well, and you don't want to change it. A new need for a large'ish number of simultaneous VPN connections for 'road warriors' arises. Your existing firewalls aren't built for high-speed cryptography, they don't have a processing power to handle many AES streams at once.

So you add a "VPN Concentrator" -- either a more modern firewall-style appliance with more CPU, or a full server -- and dedicate this box to handling the VPNs.

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+1 usually these devices are intended to handle a large number of connections. Cisco's 3000 is probably the most widely-known product with the 'concentrator' moniker. –  nedm Jun 3 '11 at 19:44
    
So it is effectivly a dedicated VPN appliance (sold as such or maybe software to run on a server)? –  Nate Jun 3 '11 at 19:47
    
As @Jesper mentioned, there's no hard & fast rule, but the 'concentrator' label is typically found on some VPN appliances. I don't know of a software or distro out there that currently labels itself as a VPN concentrator, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. –  nedm Jun 3 '11 at 19:52
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@Nate Bross: Yes, it is probably a dedicated VPN appliance. And most likely very similar to a regular firewall from the same vendor -- just with a faster embedded CPU and/or a dedicated AES co-processor for more encryption oomph. It could also just be an internal name given to a regular firewall dedicated to VPN handling; just to highlight its daily purpose in the architecture. –  Jesper Mortensen Jun 3 '11 at 19:53

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