Remote access technology is an ambiguous term in today’s technology marketplace.

What would you say  if someone asked you, “How do you access your work email from your phone?”

You may know exactly where and how your company’s email is stored, but most of us would be confused by the question and even more confused as to why this caveman doesn’t know how to download an application and sign into his email account.

We use our email every day, but the way we get to it depends on where and how our email application is stored.

For example, if your company uses Office 365, you probably use Office 365 email (Exchange Online). This means your email is hosted in the cloud, so even when you’re in the office, you’re using remote access technology to log in to your email account.

But if your email is hosted on an on-site Exchange server, your users can only access their email when at the office.

Essentially, the goal of remote access technology is to create a seamless work environment for your company’s users no matter where they are.

In this article, we will define remote access (as it’s used today) and explain why two organizations may have different answers to, “Does my company need remote access?”

What is remote access technology: How the cloud and remote access are related?

Today, we can get to almost everything we need from our desktop or mobile device if an Internet connection is available. We check email, edit documents, and schedule meetings all while on the go, outside of the office. Technically speaking, these actions are possible because of remote access technology.

However, if your company’s main Line of Business (LoB) application is not hosted online, your users may require more than a working Internet connection to remotely do their jobs.

Remote access technology can be an expensive investment for your business if you want a seamless user experience. However, compromising security for the cost is not an option.

A company that settles for a remote access solution with weak security and lacking functionality may find themselves spending more than they would have if a better solution had been adopted in the first place.

The meaning of remote access is not universal, and it’s important your business understands what the term means to you before making this IT decision.

Remote access capabilities and your business:  Does your business need remote access technology?

Does your business need remote access technology? You may have already guessed the answer, but, it depends.

Just as the definition of remote access can vary from business to business, so can the proper remote access solution.

But, don’t be discouraged! There is hope!  The first thing you need to do is answer the following questions about your organization.

1) Where is your data stored? Inside or outside of the office?

2) How do your users access the data they need to do their jobs?

3) Is your primary Line of Business (LoB) application hosted in the cloud?

If your data is hosted in the cloud, then it’s already remote.

If your LoB application is in a web browser, then it’s already remote.

If you can only access your LoB application or email while in the office, these functions are not remote.

Now, you may feel the next step is easy: Decide if you need remote access. Check. You’ve answered yes.

But, why? Do your employees need to access business-critical information outside of the office? Well, maybe it’s not necessary, but it could be helpful. What if someone is sick or injured, then they can work from home and there’s less productivity loss… right?

This is where it gets tricky. You may Google “cheap remote access solutions for small businesses.”

GoToMyPC and LogMeIn seem like they will do the job, so you purchase one of these remote desktop applications and implement the software.

For the first few months, it works great! Your users can work from home and everyone is happy.

Four months in and your network suffers a security breach of the application. Now, your business-critical information is exposed, and you’re subject to an unknown amount of downtime and possibly legal and/or financial penalties to remedy the breach.

Had you consulted with an IT professional, you may have taken additional steps to protect your network or chosen a completely different solution altogether.

In fact, remote desktop access technology is one of the most prolific forms of remotely accessing information while out of the office. The technology’s popularity might be great for vendors, but not so much for users as remote desktop is becoming one of the largest security vulnerabilities targeted by cybercriminals.

So, while it may be simple to determine if you need remote access, knowing what technology you need to achieve remote accessibility is an entirely different story.

Your IT team should work with your users to understand their data access needs. If you’re feeling pressured to hop on the remote access bandwagon, wait. First, complete the following steps.

  1. Make sure your business doesn’t already have the remote access tools it needs.
  2. Work with a capable IT team or managed IT services provider to weigh your options.

A faulty decision can lead to a lot more than a one-time investment loss. Your business needs an IT strategy capable of meeting your IT needs now and in the future. To learn more about how Aldridge can help your business navigate its IT decisions, talk to our IT consulting team.

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