VPN holds steady during COVID-19 crisis

Emory’s virtual private network (VPN) has handled a dramatic increase in usage the past two weeks. We have been running various versions of the F5 SSL VPN here at Emory since at least 2012. Never before, though, has its reliability been as critical as it is today with mandated work-from-home and remote student learning. We have been keeping a close eye on various performance metrics to make sure the VPN stays stable and reliable during this time. Three key stats are CPU usage, number of concurrent users, and throughput.

The graphs below show the last 30 days of activity for those key metrics. Week 11 and earlier show the normal VPN pattern before any wide-spread work from home began. Week 12 shows when staff began to work from home in mass. Week 13 shows when the students got back from Spring Break and began to use the VPN from off campus. So far, the max number of concurrent VPN users occurred on Tuesday of this week with just over 2600 users. Normally we average closer to 1000 concurrent users, so we are more than doubling our normal user usage.

The LITS Infrastructure Security  team has contingency plans in place to quickly modify or upgrade the VPN system if we get close to reaching our maximum usage thresholds. We will update the user community if we need to implement any of those options. As of right now, though, we are well within our current operating parameters.

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