The key advantage of a virtual router over a physical router is that multiple networks can connect to it even if there is only a single interface. What it means is that for multiple networks, there is only one router interface.
On top of this, virtual routers are backed by at least one physical router. Most people set it up to use two physical routers. As such, it is one of the best set-ups for redundancy.
What is a virtual router, and do you need one?
A router is a physical device that gets internet from the internet service provider. Then, the router transmits that data to a device connected to it. The router is the bridge between the device and the internet service provider.
However, some situations in life call for several routers. As such, one person may be inclined to buy several routers and then put them in different locations. This set-up allows people to get internet at different places in a big house—even if there is only one main internet connection.
For example, your main router is in the living room. However, it can only cover six meters. As such, there is no signal in your kitchen. One thing you can do is get another router and set it up as a router extension.
The router extension gets internet from the original one and then transmits that data to WiFi in the kitchen area. As you may have known by now, it is expensive because you need to buy another router.
A virtual router is not a real router. Instead, you are using your computer as a router. So, what happens is that the Pc connects to a router, and then the PC transmits data from that router to other devices.
Why is this necessary? Well, you do this if you do not want to buy a router extension. These things are costly and are difficult to set up. In essence, you are converting your PC into a mobile hotspot. This makes perfect sense if you have a huge house.
If you do this, the other benefit is that other devices that connect to the virtual router will also enjoy the VPN connection that your PC has. There are some devices where they cannot run a VPN. For example, gaming consoles and Roku cannot run VPN programs.
Smart TVs and older devices also cannot run VPN programs. The thing is that you want to use a VPN service for these devices, but you cannot. If this is your concern, the solution is to use a virtual router.
What are the benefits of a virtual router to a business?
Virtual routers are not only for personal use. They also make perfect sense for businesses. Below are some of the benefits, and I will explain them one by one.
- Avoiding vendor lock-in
- Pay as you grow model
- Upscale and downscale as necessary
1. Avoiding vendor lock-in
If you are a cloud service provider, you do not want to have to rely on the roadmaps or business plans of other businesses—especially the vendors. You want to be able to customize your own hardware and even user interfaces.
You can do this with virtual routers. In this model, you only buy services if you need them. In a typical model, you have to buy them even if you do not want them. If you use virtual routers, you can use multiple hardware and optimize them instead of buying new ones.
Because of this, you can dedicate some computers to perform the specific function of being a router. There is no need to purchase a new set. As such, you can save money and reduce your overall costs in hardware and housing.
2. Pay as you grow model
As a cloud service provider, you will only pay for new hardware as you grow. You do not need to make a huge investment because you will use other hardware as an alternative.
With virtual routers, you can start small. Buy only the devices you need, and then make purchases for hardware boxes and line cards later on. You can easily deploy virtual routers, and all you need to do is to add licenses.
3. Upscale and downscale as necessary
With virtual routers, you can buy more PCs and use them as a substitute router only when you need them. If you do not use virtual routers, you must buy physical routers and set them up in strategic locations in your office.
This, of course, entails cost. And the cost is not something that you want. With virtual routers, you can upscale and downscale as necessary. At best, you can turn the PC into a PC anytime if you no longer need it as a router.
Virtual Routers Versus Physical Routers
Virtual routers are highly similar in function to traditional routers that we have. Their main function is to serve as an access point for communication. It does not only serve as an internet connection module but also to connect the business with clients and other networks.
Fundamentally, the distinction between a physical router and a virtual one has something to do with the state of the router.
Virtual routers are in a static state almost all the time. They do not interact with other networks, and they are often not used as an access point for client communication. In most cases, the virtual router is merely a backup—they only work if the physical router is down.
What it means is that the virtual router is turned off and not in use unless for emergency reasons. The great news is that the physical router, or the master router, will transfer the rights and services to the virtual seamlessly—no interruption has to happen. Like a physical router, the virtual router also has its virtual router identifier or VRID. As such, it is known in your company’s system, and it can serve as an access point.
Using the virtual router as a backup is not a standard practice. It is merely common practice among many network practitioners. You can activate the virtual router anytime you want.
So, how do you know a physical from a virtual router? A physical router can only handle one network. A virtual router can handle several. What it means is that it is cheaper to use and operate than a physical router.
A virtual router is a computer—a desktop or laptop that can work as an alternative to a physical router. Instead of buying several physical routers, you buy PCs and use them to expand and manage several networks.
The key difference between a physical and virtual router is that the physical router can only handle one network. The virtual router can handle multiple, which means it is good for business.
Virtual routers are also cost-effective. In a typical environment, you must use several physical routers to serve as an access point or expand the coverage of the original router. This can be too expensive to set up. With virtual routers, you buy PCs, and it is your choice to scale up or down anytime.