Monday, March 21, 2011

Remote Access Offers Challenges, Benefits for Companies and IT


Remote access for employees has become a growing concern for IT shops everywhere, accelerated by the adoption of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones into the enterprise and small and midsize businesses. That proliferation of software and hardware by multiple vendors makes offering secure and easy remote access a far larger and more complicated task for ITadministrators. Despite the increasing complexity, ubiquitous remote access offers multiple benefits. It can make remote workers more flexible, lower costs for IT and allow a business to more easily employ far-flung workers. In order to reach that desired end-point, though, IT administrators need to examine how to make their remote access platform not only secure as possible, but also streamlined enough for users to operate with a minimum of frustration. Fortunately, a number of vendors have been working on solutions to both those challenges. Companies such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard are in the midst of developing (or offering) fingerprint readers, dual-factor passwords and other methods of user authentication. Others are offering cloud-based and virtualizations for winnowing down the number of steps needed to access a network. In the end, though, it takes some thought and work by IT administrators to make remote access a reality.


A long time ago, IT administrators mostly concerned themselves with managing on-premises employees and devices. They could create a homogeneous environment and deal with problems in-house.



With a VPN and corporate-issued laptop, employees could start to telecommute from far-flung locations. For IT administrators, remote access became a somewhat more complicated task.


Consumer Devices

More employees are bringing their smartphones and tablets from home, and asking their IT departments to incorporate those personal devices into the corporate network.



With more employees working from other locations and more personal devices on the corporate network, the task of offering secure, simple remote access threatens to become a monumental challenge for IT pros at every level.



Nonetheless, remote access offers some advantages. It gives workers more flexibility and can sometimes reduce an organization’s costs. 


Simplicity and Security

Companies’ concerns about remote access should focus on two areas: simplicity and security.


Secure Connection

Some of the security measures for remote access are very basic: IT administrators should ensure their VPN is secure, warn employees about clicking on possible malware links and quickly deactivate ex-employees’ access to the network.


User Authentication

Companies such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard are introducing more reliable methods of user authentication, including fingerprint scanners, face-recognition software and two-factor passwords.



Tech vendors have also been developing ways to create isolated virtual machines, which can compartmentalize different spheres of operation.



Much of the complexity associated with remote access is due to companies using four or five different platforms to enact a small number of solutions: a server from one vendor, say, running software from another, in order to deliver apps or services to a variety of devices.


Simpler Interface

IT administrators may have to make conscious decisions about ways to streamline the component chain involved in remote access. Users will be more likely to use remote access correctly if it only takes a few clicks to log onto and work within the corporate network.


The Cloud

A number of cloud-based vendors have begun offering solutions that give remote workers ubiquitous access to applications from a broad range of devices.




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