I have a home network and I would like to implement a VPN to the cloud. Is this possible without the ISP's cooperation in port forwarding? In other words, is my only option to use a 3rd party VPN service or can I set it up without the ISP's cooperation? I doubt that they will do any custom configurations for me.
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There are two possible answers to this question.. Which you prefer depends on what exactly you meant. :)
If you would like to establish a VPN out in a cloud service like Amazon you do not need any cooperation from your ISP at all. Generally, ISPs do not filter much of anything that leaves their networks.
However, I suspect that what you really meant to ask is whether or not you can establish an inbound VPN to your house to which you can connect when you are remote. The answer is, again, yes, though you will need to examine your ISPs policies. An extremely simple to set up solution is OpenVPN (http://www.openvpn.net). Not only is it easy to set up but it also allows you to easily configure the port on which you wish it to operate and whether it should operate over TCP or UDP.
While IPSec VPNs are more mainstream and businesslike, you may have difficulty with your ISP allowing those protocols inbound. Even with OpenVPN you may have a challenge. Check your ISPs policies to see if they are permitting port 443 inbound to your firewall/cablemodem. If they aren't there may be a setting to change it. If there is no way to change it without a higher fee check to see if other ports are allowed inbound. If they are just reconfigure OpenVPN to work over that port!