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IT Project: VPN Service Transition

Project Status

June 23, 2020: GlobalProtect was successfully rolled out to the University.

VPN Service Transition Overview

Project Charter


VPN (virtual private network) is a service that provides an encrypted connection between an end-user device and a termination point on another network. Currently, Northwestern IT runs two VPN platforms: one providing general access to campus for all users with NetIDs and one providing more granular, role-based access to campus resources. Northwestern IT is planning to migrate and consolidate our existing Virtual Private Network services by March 31, 2020 to a new, single, multi-factor authentication-supported service.

Note: This change does not apply to the Feinberg F5 BigIP VPN client or built-in client at this time.

Benefits to the Northwestern Community

With this change, Northwestern IT is consolidating three existing VPN clients – Pulse Secure SSL VPN client, Cisco AnyConnect, and the built-in client L2TP VPN services – into a single new client: Global Protect.

The benefits of the move to GlobalProtect VPN include:

  1. Integration of the VPN service with Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), providing added security to our network.
  2. The move to a private IP addressing space will allow us to build much larger pools of IP addresses for the groups that currently use our Pulse Secure SSL VPN client.
  3. Consolidation to one client, which will simplify support. This new service will consolidate our three existing clients: Pulse Secure SSL VPN client, Cisco AnyConnect, and the built-in client L2TP VPN services.
  4. Server-side consolidation, reducing the number of supported systems.

Project Timeline

Date Description Status
August 1, 2019 - September 30, 2019

Testing and evaluation period


October 2019 -

April 30, 2020

Rolling migration of all schools and departments
(except the Feinberg School of Medicine and NU-Q)

June 23, 2020 Retirement of existing VPN clients Complete

Last Updated: 19 April 2021

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