By Ryan Squires Posted October 1, 2019
The benefits of leveraging RADIUS in your network are clear: increased network security, centralized authentications, and enhanced network control. But, what are the benefits of moving away from on-prem RADIUS implementations and shifting your RADIUS servers to the cloud? Below we outline some key takeaways to help you decide if the benefits of cloud-based RADIUS authentication are worth it for you.
Eliminate On-Prem RADIUS Server Work
Physically setting up RADIUS servers is time-consuming on many levels. First, you need to evaluate hardware to determine if it is suitable for the requirements of your environment. That means assessing several factors including the amount of users, compatibility with existing infrastructure, projected growth of the company (and the subsequent need for load balancing), and more.
Then, you need to configure the server to work with all of the variables in your environment. This could include WAPs, switches, routers, a directory service such as OpenLDAP™ or Microsoft® Active Directory®, or a cloud-based directory. After all of this configuration work is done, continually monitoring your on-prem RADIUS server(s) is essential to ensure that everything is working correctly.
For time-strapped IT admins, setting up and maintaining on-prem RADIUS servers equates to extra work in an overstuffed day. By making the switch to cloud-based RADIUS servers, IT admins eliminate a considerable amount of work. It’s analogous to using other cloud-based resources like Gmail. Instead of setting up email servers, you just provide your users with an email box in the cloud and they get to work.
Reduce Operating Costs
With all of the physical setup that goes into standing up your RADIUS server, there are heavy costs to be expected as well. As you may know, FreeRADIUS is an open-source software solution which means anybody can download the software and use it for free. But, just because the software is free, ongoing server support and maintenance is not.
IT admins have strengths in different areas. Some are experts in RADIUS and others are not. If you’re not, consider the time it would take to get to that level, and the subsequent investment that would be required. Conversely, if your expertise is RADIUS, contemplate the expenses that go into standing up and configuring on-prem RADIUS implementations.
When you move your RADIUS servers to the cloud, a third-party already has these investments in place for you to take advantage of. There is no need to purchase infrastructure, learn the RADIUS protocol, or hire experts that already know it. You just pay for the amount of users that use the service. And, depending on the provider you’ve selected, those may end up as your only costs.
Better Reliability / Security
Cloud providers generally afford better reliability, availability, and security over what individual companies can provide. Ultimately, this comes down to economics. Cloud companies spread out their investments in those areas across all of their customers.
Essentially, when you leverage a cloud provider for key aspects of your infrastructure, you’re purchasing a team of experts to facilitate needed functionality within your environment. Instead of racking up heavy capital costs in on-prem investments, you leverage an expert team as an operational expense that has already done the hard work of setting up and configuring RADIUS servers.
Cloud companies have to continue to innovate so that they can remain competitive. It is their mission to bring new features to you and your organization, and you’re not necessarily on the hook to pay for those investments.
When you leverage on-prem implementations, on the other hand, upgrading and updating infrastructure largely falls upon you. So, providing new and exciting features on a regular basis can prove difficult. This is especially true when you consider that a component like RADIUS is just one aspect of your overall environment. Ultimately, spending a large amount of time with just one facet of your infrastructure can result in lapses to other aspects. With the right provider, you save time, effort, and money, and get it all delivered to one easy to use, cloud-based interface.