Being able to securely access critical company data and applications 24/7 remotely is becoming increasingly important to remain competitive.  In years past, remote access solutions were complex to manage and difficult for employees to use.  By contrast, today’s remote access solutions are much easier to setup and administer, cost effective, and easy for anyone to access.

There are a host of options available for small businesses to allow employees the ability to access varying degrees of company data and applications when they are on the road, or working from remote and home offices.

Server Solutions:  Allows individuals to log into a centralized server to gain access to data and applications that you wish to make available.  This could be all applications that can be accessed in the office or a subset of applications and data.  Citrix and Microsoft Terminal Services are two commonly used server-based remote access solutions that we have found to be good options for small businesses.

Desktop Solutions:  These solutions give individuals access to their office computers so they can work directly on the workstation and within the environment they are accustomed to when in the office.  Microsoft Remote Web Workplace is commonly used in this configuration.

Email Access:  Whether you are using IBM Lotus Domino or Microsoft Exchange servers for email, there are multiple options for allowing employees access to email.  The Lotus Notes client software has long supported full remote access and can be configured on a home computer or laptop to access email and all company Notes applications.  Domino Web Access provides full access to email, calendar, contacts, and to do’s through a web browser for those that don’t have Notes installed.  Outlook Anywhere (RPC over HTTPS) allows Exchange users’ home computers and laptops to be configured to access email, calendar, contacts, and tasks.  Also available, Outlook Web Access gives employees the ability to gain access to their email from a web browser.

Hosted (Cloud) Options:   To minimize capital expenditures and reduce administrative costs, many organizations are looking to SaaS (Software as a Service) and HaaS (Hardware as a Service) to use applications and/or hardware that is accessible over the Internet.  While this model has been around as long as the internet, now common server applications (such as Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Domino) are available making this option viable for multiple location or organizations with mostly in the field staff.

File Sharing:  Having a centralized storage location that can be accessible by individuals from locations outside the company network has become increasingly important.  Documents maintained as email attachments that are sent back-and-forth have created a lot of problems for individuals and IT management alike.  Sometimes a simple VPN connection to server files makes the management of documents easy.  Using applications like SharePoint, Lotus Domino and Lotus Quicker either in-house or hosted has proven successful from some.  Hosted solutions like Drop Box has been effective for others.

Voice Systems:  With the availability of broadband, and new phone systems that work over the internet, there are cost-effective options now that allow a employee to be connected to an office phone system when working at home.  Solution range from Voice over IP extensions on a corporate phone system to fully hosted corporate phone systems.

As organizations continue to demand more of employees, we have found that giving them the flexibility to manage their growing workloads remotely makes them more productive and increases job satisfaction.  Leveraging remote access tools enables them to conduct “business-as-usual”, regardless of location.  As always, we welcome any discussion about technology and your business.

If you would like to discuss your current remote access tools or how you can begin taking advantage of remote access, please call us at (703) 961-1840 option 2 or email us.