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.