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> Chapter 16 - IPsec VPN > IPsec VPN concepts > Clients, servers, and peers

Clients, servers, and peers

A FortiGate unit in a VPN can have one of the following roles:

  • Server — responds to a request to establish a VPN tunnel.
  • Client — contacts a remote VPN gateway and requests a VPN tunnel.
  • Peer — brings up a VPN tunnel or responds to a request to do so.

The site-to-site VPN shown above is a peer-to-peer relationship. Either FortiGate unit VPN gateway can establish the tunnel and initiate communications. The FortiClient‑to‑FortiGate VPN shown below is a client-server relationship. The FortiGate unit establishes a tunnel when the FortiClient PC requests one.

A FortiGate unit cannot be a VPN server if it has a dynamically-assigned IP address. VPN clients need to be configured with a static IP address for the server. A FortiGate unit acts as a server only when the remote VPN gateway has a dynamic IP address or is a client-only device or application, such as FortiClient.

As a VPN server, a FortiGate unit can also offer automatic configuration for FortiClient PCs. The user needs to know only the IP address of the FortiGate VPN server and a valid user name/password. FortiClient downloads the VPN configuration settings from the FortiGate VPN server. For information about configuring a FortiGate unit as a VPN server, see the FortiClient Administration Guide.