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Zenlayer Virtual Edge: a cost-effective alternative to local loops
Posted On: Oct 05, 2022

Traditionally, businesses that want to connect to a private backbone network need to install a local loop - a physical link that connects the business’s branches (office or data center) to their cloud network provider’s network. Establishing this physical link is both expensive and time-consuming as it involves running copper wire or fiber optic cables all the way from the business’s premises to the cloud network provider’s nearest point of presence (PoP).  

We developed Zenlayer Virtual Edge as a pain-free and cost-effective solution to help you connect to our global private backbone so you can quickly access our advanced suite of cloud networking products - all without the need for a local loop.  

Why choose Zenlayer Virtual Edge? 

Zenlayer Virtual Edge lets you: 

 - Instantly access Zenlayer’s suite of products and services
 - Drastically cut the costs of setting up a private network for your business
 - Use your existing equipment and internet connection
 - Access our cloud networking services where a local loop cannot be provisioned

Faster delivery 

Rather than provisioning a local loop, which can take 2+ months, Zenlayer Virtual Edge can be set up in less than 2 days if you have the required customer premise equipment (CPE). If you don’t have the equipment, you can either create a virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) on a server or purchase a recommended CPE directly from us. No matter which option you choose, your Zenlayer Virtual Edge can be set up in a tiny fraction of the time that it takes to provision a local loop. 

Lower costs 

The average cost of a local loop is 2x or higher than the cost of connecting via Zenlayer Virtual Edge. Factors that drive up this cost include fees for channel termination (or establishing connection end points) between the network carrier (this could be a local loop provider or your ISP) and your cloud network provider, and the direct distance from your branch to their nearest PoP. 

As you can probably guess, the bulk of your costs to provision a local loop scales with the distance between your branch and your cloud network provider’s nearest PoP. So, if the nearest PoP is far away from your branch, your total costs will quickly skyrocket. And if you need to connect one of your remote branches to a nearby PoP in a developing region? Treading through local zoning and data transmission laws to lay down cables on foreign soil can easily make the installation prohibitively expensive.  

Simpler setup  

Most CPEs have built-in capability to connect to our network. So, if you already have a CPE that’s connected to the internet, you can continue using it. And since you’re already paying for the internet connection your network carrier provides to your branch, you can use it to connect to Zenlayer Virtual Edge without paying any extra carrier fees. This simplifies your IT setup (and billing!) and makes your infrastructure easier to manage.  

Wider availability 

In the vast majority of cases, local loops cannot exceed 5km (roughly 3.1mi) in length. So, if your branch is farther than 5km from your cloud network provider’s nearest PoP - you’re out of luck. Zenlayer Virtual Edge has no distance restrictions. As long as you have a compatible CPE or VPN client and internet access, you’ll be able to access our suite of cloud networking services quickly and easily. 

Are there any benefits to a local loop? 

Certainly. The quality of your connection to Zenlayer Virtual Edge corresponds directly to the quality of your branch’s internet connection. As an example, if your business shares an office building with a large number of other tenants, you probably all share the same physical cables fed into your building from the same network provider. 

When too many people in your building are using the internet simultaneously, the combined bandwidth demand from everyone in the building can surge far beyond the bandwidth cap of those cables. When this happens, you’ll experience congestion, which leads to frustrating slowdowns and timeouts. 

Since a local loop is a physical line between your branch and your cloud network provider, it’s inherently more secure and reliable than hopping from a public network onto a private tunnel like Zenlayer Virtual Edge. If you paid for a dedicated local loop to your business, no one else but your business has access to that loop - minimizing congestion and preserving network stability. 

 Aside from Zenlayer Virtual Edge, we also offer local loop installations. If you’d like to discuss the best choice for your business, give our solution experts a call and we’ll be happy to help you figure it out! 

How do I start using Zenlayer Virtual Edge? 

Connecting through vCPE/CPE using IPsec VPN 

Internet protocol security (IPsec) is a set of protocols that encrypts connections between devices to keep communications over public networks secure. An IPsec virtual private network (VPN) is simply a VPN that uses IPsec protocols to establish connectivity and ensure the security of its connections.  

As long as your branch has a CPE/vCPE that’s connected to the internet, you can contact our sales team to initiate your order. Our provisioning experts will provide you with the IPsec configuration information needed to connect your CPE to your Zenlayer Virtual Edge. 

The benefit of connecting through IPsec VPN is that one CPE/vCPE in your office can cover all devices on its network. This means that with one Zenlayer Virtual Edge connection, all of your PCs, laptops, phones, etc. that share your CPE’s network can access our network and services with minimal configuration. 

Connecting through a client using SSL VPN 

Secure socket layer (SSL) VPN is another type of VPN that uses SSL or transport layer security (TLS, an evolution of SSL protocols) instead of IPsec to encrypt communications. This is your best option if you want to connect a single device, or a group of distributed devices (for example, remote team members’ laptops) to Zenlayer Virtual Edge. 

This is because unlike within an office setting, your remote team’s devices are not connected to a shared CPE, but to their home networks, cellular networks, or public networks (like the Wi-Fi hotspots found in shopping centers, libraries, or cafés, etc.). As you can imagine, it’s physically impossible to extend the network of one CPE to include all of these widely distributed devices.  

In this scenario, you would need to download a VPN client of your choosing (we recommend OpenVPN) on each device you plan to connect to Zenlayer Virtual Edge. After you sign up and log in to your VPN client, simply contact our sales team to initiate your order. Our provisioning team will then provide you with the needed SSL configuration information to set up your VPN client to connect to your Zenlayer Virtual Edge. 

After you've completed your setup, you can instantly start enjoying your speedy, private, and secure connection to our advanced suite of cloud networking products! 

New to Zenlayer Cloud Networking? Check it out now! 

Instantly provision a private full mesh layer 3 network with Zenlayer Cloud Router or use Zenlayer Private Connect to establish a secure layer 2 point-to-point network that interconnects your data centers and clouds. Either way, you’ll experience ultra-low latency and enhanced reliability across 30 countries worldwide. 

Streamline your business infrastructure and save by trying out Zenlayer’s advanced cloud networking products today! Sign up with our self-service console or reach out to our friendly sales team to get started.