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I hear both terms used, sometimes in conjunction, sometimes seemingly as synonyms.

What is the technical difference between these types of devices if they are in fact different?

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Yes, though they are often used interchangeably.

A VPN gateway may refer to a router, firewall, or VPN Concentrator that provides Virtual Private Networks.

A VPN Concentrator is a dedicated [VPN gateway] appliance (physical or virtual).

All VPN Concentrators are VPN Gateways, but not all VPN Gateways are VPN Concentrators.

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  • Thanks. Why did the term concentrator start being used instead of the more traditional gateway?
    – James Stem
    Apr 13, 2015 at 16:57
  • This is conjecture. This is much like the term router being used in place of gateway. You're certainly familiar with the term "default gateway" that indicates the router's address on your network. Gateway historically meant a translation between two protocols (which has less meaning these days with pure IP traffic for routers) though the term is used universally today to indicate a pathway that must be used to reach a certain destination with possible protocol manipulation. The gateway may merely provide a pathway (e.g., routing) or may encrypt, encapsulate, and/or translate. Apr 13, 2015 at 21:00

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