Best Remote Office Access Options
Many times a small to medium sized business is looking to mobilize its workforce or to simplify network connectivity to enable a more flexible work environment. To do this a company has a variety of options available to them. Below we will use non-tech speak to discuss the two most common and affordable solutions a small or medium sized business should consider.
VPN – Virtual Private Network VPN’s today are considered older technology in the realm of remote connectivity options. VPNs are considered to be a tried and true low cost business solution for remote office connectivity. To setup a reliable VPN network a business is required to have a dependable internet connection. This internet connection must have two way speeds, both upload and download speeds, that are similar and the faster the internet speed the better. For larger deployment large internet bandwidth is also required.
There are a variety of VPN solutions out there that increase both security and speed but many times the out of the box solutions provided by a business firewall, Unix, or windows server is sufficient. If you expect a large remote workforce a more robust VPN solution may be necessary. Although, if this is the case a virtual desktop or virtualized application solution may be the better option.
A VPN is good for:
- A tight budget
- Secured small and medium sized remote file access
- Remote secured intranet access
- Some light weight client-server application access
- Remote telephone system access via VoIP (voice over IP)
A VPN is NOT good for:
- Large client-server solutions: Some ERP and most custom databases
- Remote printing
- Large file access – remote opening and saving such as large excel files
- Users needing a super simple remote access solution
Thin Client – Citrix or MS VDI
A newer technology, and more little more costly than VPN, is to deploy a virtualized desktop solution. A virtualized desktop solution provides remote connectivity via a client application or the internet to a company’s software and business office networks securely from anywhere. Two to the most commonly deployed solutions are provide by Citrix and Microsoft. A Citrix solution is an additional software that usually requires its own dedicated hardware to run on, while a Microsoft solution is typically bundled in with their server environment and require additional software licenses to enable. Depending on the usage of the Microsoft server, and the amount of users, the Microsoft VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) server solution may also require a dedicated server.
A virtual desktop solution allows a company to provide remote access to their entire network and also allows for additional services to be provided directly to users such as software and a customized desktop experience based on an individual or group need. Through a thin client solution a business can provide its remote users with access to a single application like excel, or a broad base of applications like the company accounting, HR, and sales software.
A virtualized desktop solution is good choice for:
- Users requiring ease of access
- Providing secure remote access to a company’s network
- Providing secure remote access to client-server solutions such as custom databases and large client applications like an ERP solution or accounting application
- To provide access to large sharable documents like large excel files and reports.
- Providing a customizable and specific remote user experience
A virtualized desktop solution isn’t good for:
- A tight budget
- Software that doesn’t work well with a virtualized environment. (depends on application requirements)
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