This article examines the differences between Twingate and mesh VPN products.
At a high level, Twingate and mesh VPNs both offer a way to provide secure access to private resources. However, there are important differences in architectures and approaches which have significant practical implications for businesses.
Twingate was built from scratch to be an enterprise product. This informed how it was architected and designed from day one. As a result of being built specifically for enterprises, Twingate can, for example:
- be deployed easily and with minimal change or disruption to existing infrastructure;
- accommodate complicated networks found in a wide variety of enterprises in different industries, while simplifying administration of access to network resources;
- co-exist with complementary security products commonly used by enterprises; and
- unburden busy IT teams from ongoing administrative tasks.
Before a product can deliver the benefits it promises, it needs to clear the initial hurdle of being successfully deployed. Complicated or lengthy deployment processes often act as a barrier to adopting new technology within an organization, so with Twingate, we focused on ensuring that this process is as painless as possible. Below are some differences between deploying Twingate versus a mesh VPN.
Infrastructure Changes & Network Addresses
Twingate’s architecture enables it to be deployed without any changes to network infrastructure.
On other hand, mesh VPNs typically require all resources on your network to be assigned new IP addresses. One reason for this is that mesh VPNs require IP addresses to be unique across your entire private network, even if today you have a perfectly functioning network composed of multiple segments with overlapping IP address ranges.
This can be a very involved process requiring networking expertise. Before you can re-assign IP addresses across your entire network, you first have to inventory each resource on your network. Re-addressing resources also has substantial knock on effects: settings, bookmarks and workflows that rely on those IP addresses need to be updated, and end users need to be retrained to use the new addresses.
Twingate supports overlapping IP addresses and does not require any re-addressing of resources, or any changes to network infrastructure, for that matter. This allows for a cleaner separation of concerns: access to resources can be controlled completely independent of network architecture. And end users simply continue accessing resources at the IP addresses or domain names they are accustomed to.
Mesh VPNs typically require a software agent to be installed on each device (including servers) that is to be accessible as part of the “mesh,” This may be workable for smaller environments, but quickly becomes untenable for larger, more dynamic enterprise environments given the complexities of deploying and maintaining this for every device.
Twingate only requires a software agent for each client, and a single lightweight Controller software component to be installed on each Remote Network.
Evaluation without Disruption
Another benefit of Twingate not requiring any changes to network infrastructure is that it can co-exist with an existing access solution (such as a corporate VPN). This allows Twingate to be evaluated on a small or large scale without needing to rip and replace an existing solution. Being able to try out a solution without impacting existing operations helps to de-risk your procurement process.
IT teams are always busy, so anything that reduces their administrative workload is usually valued. Enterprise software also often has a reputation for being complicated to learn and manage. With these two issues in mind, Twingate was designed with usability as a core value -- both for admins and end users alike -- and not as a second class citizen to security, flexibility, or power.
Intuitive Admin Console
Twingate’s admin console provides consumer grade usability. It is designed to allow administrators to perform tasks efficiently and without requiring the admin to be a technical expert or to continually refer back to documentation. We believe that simplicity also leads to less human error and frustration.
In contrast, many mesh VPN products offer basic admin experiences and configuration tasks can be complex endeavors. For example, one popular mesh VPN product requires access policies to be written in JSON (compared to the point and click interface that Twingate provides).
API & Automation Capabilities
For more technical admins, Twingate offers an extensive administrative API that can be used to automate processes such as automatically assigning permissions to newly onboarded users, or automatically provisioning access to a new server upon deployment in a VPC. APIs are not unique to Twingate and mesh VPNs offer them too, but it’s worth noting that Twingate does not trade off enterprise grade functionality in its pursuit of usability.
End User Experience
As end users may be predominantly non-technical, eliminating any friction with onboarding them is a key to ongoing success. Mesh VPN clients vary in nature, so consider the end user’s setup and user experience when evaluating mesh VPN products.
Twingate’s clients are available for all major desktop and mobile platforms and are battle-tested in a wide variety of enterprise environments. Clients are easy for end users to install by themselves and require no configuration, lengthy setup guides, or technical support. Once running, clients run in the background and require negligible user interaction.
Enhanced Security Functionality
Twingate’s functionality extends beyond the basic access control features provided by mesh VPNs. Examples of additional functionality include:
- Universal 2FA: Twingate allows two-factor authentication to be applied to any type of private resource - not just applications. For example, 2FA now can secure services such as SSH that are not normally protectable by 2FA. In keeping with our focus on usability, enabling Universal 2FA does not require any application changes.
- Device restrictions: Twingate supports access policies based on device posture, which allows authorization decisions to be made based on the attributes of the specific device being used to request access.
- Enterprise-wide logging: Twingate provides identity-indexed network flow logs and analytics to provide enterprise-wide visibility over network activity from one central source. Because all activity is tied to a user and device identity, identifying usage patterns, trends and anomalies is straightforward.
Compatibility with Existing Security Stacks
Enterprises use a wide range of software and, since our inception, we've made it an explicit product goal for Twingate to interoperate with other network security products. Our belief is that a combination of specialized products, with the companies behind them focused on solving their problem space in depth, presents the best possible outcome for customers. A couple examples are:
- Identity provider integrations: Twingate supports major identity providers Okta, OneLogin, Google Workspace, Azure AD, as well as social SSO services.
- DNS filtering: Twingate secures private network traffic, but users’ access to the public internet also needs to be protected. Twingate is compatible with security software like DNSFilter which combines with Twingate to provide more holistic security for end users.
When assessing a mesh VPN solution, you should consider whether it offers compatibility with the other security software you use in your organization.
While Twingate is simple enough to be used in home networks and by prosumers, our target audience is enterprises. The customers we work with day-in, day-out are enterprise organizations that span various sizes, from larger, mature companies to smaller, rapidly growing ones. We have experience supporting a range of business use cases and customers in regulated industries like healthcare, financial services, and legal services.
Twingate is operated by a globally distributed team of seasoned professionals working in engineering, product management, customer support, and business operations with a long track record of successfully delivering leading enterprise technology solutions. Our team comes from companies like AT&T, Dropbox, Microsoft, OpenDNS/Cisco, Slack, and Sophos.
Updated 5 months ago