The range of technology options for remote access has expanded tremendously in recent years. Companies that want remote-access capabilities should consider these solutions:
- Virtual Private Networks. VPNs deliver a secure, encrypted tunnel through the Internet for users in remote locations or on mobile devices to access enterprise applications and networks.
- Pros: Companies retain full control of their applications and data, which are centralized behind the corporate firewall.
- Cons: VPNs require strong in-house IT resources and investment in (and ongoing management of) effective security measures.
- Cloud computing. These services let companies remotely access applications from a third-party vendor. For a monthly subscription charge, usually based on the number of users and servers, the service provider stores and manages all of the company’s back-end IT equipment and applications at its own data center, and handles the company’s requirements for security, redundancy, reliability and performance.
- Pros: Cloud services offer predictable costs and easy scalability. There is no need for major capital investments in servers and software, and no worries over IT management issues, including licensing compliance.
- Cons: Reliance on a third party means that if the provider goes down or loses data, the companies it serves could go down too, so picking the right partner is critical.
- Remote-access software services. Popular services such as Citrix’s GoToMyPC or PCNow from WebEx rely on a screen-sharing technology that allows one PC to stream its desktop resources to a remote PC.
- Pros: These services offer secure remote access that is very cost-effective and easy to set up, even for the smallest of companies.
- Cons: Users who want to access resources held on their work computer generally have to leave it turned on, which leaves it vulnerable to a potential weather event or disaster and can add to a company’s electric bill.
For the fully story on how SMBs are using remote access, read "Remote Access Keeps SMBs Open for Business" here.