As the work from home trend continues to grow, many businesses require secure remote access for their employees. However, with so many remote access technology options, how do you know which one is best? This is actually a tough question as there are key differences between the methods, as well as pros and cons for each. The answer may come down to what tasks you need to accomplish.
Sometimes no additional connections are required. For instance, if your organization supports cloud based applications, those should be available and function the same from home or in the office. Office 365, Salesforce, and many other applications will only require your credentials to gain access.
If you simply need to check email, use SharePoint, or collaborate with co-workers and customers, it is quite possible, you can log into your computer and work without any additional configuration or connections.
More than likely, however, in order to complete some part of your job function, you will need to be able to reach a location within your organization’s network. This could be to connect remotely to another computer, run some type of software, or just get to a file share. In the manufacturing industry, many of our clients rely on us to keep them up and running smoothly and efficiently 24X7. And, because we can’t be everywhere at the same time, having secure, remote access is critical to successfully supporting our clients. There are a few ways that this can be accomplished and knowing the differences between them can help you choose the most efficient.
VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)
VDI is a virtualization technique that enables access to a virtualized desktop, which is hosted on a remote service over the internet.
Pros & Cons of VDI:
While connected to a virtual desktop, you are controlling a computer that has access to your company’s network. Applications and transfers to the VDI will function at normal “office” speeds. If you get disconnected from the VDI (depending on how the VDI is configured), you will not lose the work you had open. The issue is that if you need to copy files from the VDI or network to your local computer, you will need a separate process to do so. The other disadvantage is that software installed locally will not be able to communicate with your office network. In most cases, this is not necessary; however, there may be occasions when it is.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network that allows users to conduct work remotely.
Pros & Cons of VPN:
The VPN connection is actually connecting your computer into the network. So, even though you are not physically in the office, your computer is functioning as if it is. Unlike connecting to a VDI, VPN will assign your computer an IP address within the network. This allows you to have direct access to resources within the organization unlike a VDI that is just relaying a “picture” of what it’s doing. The downfall is that the VPN connection is dependent on your connection speed to transfer the data to you. Also, once you disconnect from the VPN, your connection is terminated, so any drives or software that were open and using that connection will now fail. So, while on VPN, you are able to work like you were in the office, however, speeds are dependent on your connection.
What’s the best way to connect into the office when working remotely? There is no one answer. It will all depend on what type of software and access you need during that session. Once you know what your connection requirements are, you can determine which connection is best for you.
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