This embodies a variety of technologies aimed at providing access to business systems for users away from the office. These days almost no business can operate without access to the internet so you probably already have some kind of connection. If you don’t, or if you feel it is not sufficient for your needs we can help select something suitable.
Depending on the location of your office this may be a standard ADSL, coming via a telephone line, or a cable connection. If neither of these is available for your location an expensive leased line may be the only option. Whichever you opt for the goal is to achieve the maximum, or sufficient, bandwidth for the minimum cost. In addition to the connection you will need an appropriate modem which often comes from the supplier of the connection. Where available, cable connections normally provide significantly greater bandwidth than those using phone lines.
Having connected your business to the internet you then need to protect it from all manner of threats that would like to use your new connection as a way to attack your business. To do this you require a firewall. Most modems come with a basic firewall but something more robust is strongly recommended. In addition to allow users on your business network to make best use of the connection to the internet you require a router. Finally, many remote businesses require VPNs. If your network has a Windows 2008 Server this can be used to perform routing, VPN and firewall functions but we would not recommend this unless you were on and extremely tight budget. This is because the additional overhead on the server will reduce its performance for all the other tasks it is used for and any software problem on the server could adversely affect its ability to police the internet connection. We recommend using a separate piece of dedicated hardware to perform these functions. The exact device required will depend on the number of users requiring connections to or from your business network and the precise methods of access it has to support. Whether you utilise a hardware or software solution it will have to be carefully configured if it is to provide the protection and other functionality required.
Where possible we like to deal with market leading suppliers and would prefer to install and configure the most appropriate product from the range of Cisco ASA 5500 Series devices but if you already use a different manufacturer’s hardware on your network we can use their equivalent.
Once your office is securely connected to the internet various possibilities exist for remotely connecting to it. For many the requirement is simply to be able to use their laptop to log into the office to access the business intranet or check their emails. Others, particularly those who drive a lot, find it more convenient to view their office emails on their smart phone; many do both.
To use your laptop you need a connection to the internet and some VPN software. These days the internet connection is commonly via a wireless network provided by a hotel, railway station, coffee shop, other public building or Wi-Fi hotspot. Often the use of the connection is chargeable and these charges can be quite high if you only require limited use. They are also not very portable. An alternative with greater portability is your mobile phone network although the bandwidth in certain areas is limited and costs can vary. Assuming an internet connection is available all you require is the appropriate version of VPN client software on the laptop and we can configure a VPN connection to your office. When buying a new laptop that you wish to use in this way it is important to obtain one with high quality wireless connectivity built-in. Hewlett Packard have an extensive range from which you can choose depending on your budget and other requirements. The prices vary enormously but if you get it from us we can help pick the most appropriate and ensure it is configured as required.
For other mobile devices the exact configuration requirements will depend in part upon the device. If you have Blackberry handsets you wish to use access your office email addition software is required in your office. Depending on the number of users, currently up to 75, you may be able to use the ‘free’ version of their Blackberry Enterprise Server Express. Over that limit you’ll have to purchase Blackberry Enterprise Server. We can install and configure whichever you require. Other smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone can be used to access office email without the need to purchase additional software at the office end. Some of these devices also have APPs you can purchase to enable you to create ‘desktop sessions’ on suitably licensed and configured networks. In fairness this usually works best for tablets rather than phones due to the larger screen size. If you fly a lot and weight and bulk are an issue you may prefer to take a tablet rather than your laptop.