Remote Access, Reasonably Priced

By Marc Solomon  |  Posted 2005-02-01 Print this article Print

Evaluate the costs of providing secure remote acess by performing application updates on the server instead of personal devices.

Ten years ago, virtual private network connections lacked the bandwidth, security features and application support necessary to become a cost-effective conduit for remote access.

By 2000, 20% of enterprise traffic was being transported over the public Internet, cutting telecom costs in half and elevating VPNs to the de facto corporate standard for site-to-site safe transfer of data.

But the deal wasn't sealed because remote users still needed VPN software on their desktop and portable computers to log on to their corporate networks.

That's now changing. The emergence of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, which is used to transmit documents safely over the Internet, means that software clients—or, at the least, the need to configure them—are going away.

That change is a relief for network administrators who are faced with the increasing dispersion of workers and an explosion of devices such as cheaper laptops that threaten to drive up security, maintenance and connectivity costs.

For Howard Rubin, director of information technology at Care New England, this means that the health-care provider's physicians can quickly gain access to medical and administration records as well as e-mail, whether they are connected from clinics, offices or hospitals.

"The best part is that ease of access is invisible to our user base as well as our developers," Rubin says. "We didn't change anything on existing apps or rewrite the familiar front- ends our doctors expect when they connect."

Rubin sees additional savings in fewer help-desk calls, a reduction in security threats posed by unmanaged devices, and cuts in site licenses for popular client access tools like Citrix MetaFrame.

Network viruses, millennial meltdowns and mergers of information-technology companies come and go. But the issue of remote access will only become more ascendant as the days of central, static enterprises become more, well, remote.

Tool: Connecting With Remote Access Costs

Are remote users running up your connection costs? What if you provided secure remote access by performing application updates and maintenance on the server instead of personal devices? This calculator demonstrates how to recoup the costs of moving from a virtual private network whose workings are mainly contained on personal computers, to one whose smarts are on servers.

Instructions: Enter estimates for your company in the white cells. Our example supports a migration of 1,800 remote users. Download the premium spreadsheet at go.baselinemag.com/feb05.

sources: Baseline research, cisco, nortel


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