“The office” is fast becoming, for many organisations, a thing of the past – at least in terms of the expectation that it is the only place people go to work. If Ricky Gervais remade the series now, he’d have characters on trains trying to conduct negotiations over dodgy mobile signals, and web conferencing between people …
Easy panacea to all these sort of shit problems!
Use terminal server. Easy. There really is no excuse NOT to these days. Follow me printing, encrypted connectivity, only data going up n down is encrypted screen updates, mouse movement and key presses. No data theft. No updates. No worries. Why the fuck do IT peeps make it overly complex for worker peeps to work remotely? We even have the capacity for video now and full motion graphics, so voila!! Viva RDP I say!
Re: Terminal Server
It's easy yes, however it's not the most efficient thing. We do use it, but it's often quite laggy. Screen transfers don't pose a bandwidth problem these days, but there's no getting around the keyboard/mouse interaction lag. Also, the RDP server itself is often a bottleneck.
The experience made possible via VPN + local apps is far preferable, and assuming the business provides employee desktops/laptops to join the domain, then those remote desktops can still be managed as if they were in the office.
The later option is clearly more expensive in terms of hardware/software though.
Slap your users in the face...
Citrix + VPN rules the block for regular windows blokes.
SSH + RDP/NX/VNC Rules everything else.
But the best technology of all is ensuring that only people that need to work remotely do so.
Working remotely from home has turned lately into some sort of company status rather than a business necesity, you know "look ma the company lend me a shiny laptop and a blackberry".
And that's why it has become so complicated.
I really can't imagine virtualised desktops getting anywhere in my own environment - the enormous extra server cost to buy hardware hefty enough to run a load of desktop apps alone would rule it out immediately, even if all our remote users had enough bandwidth to use remote desktops comfortably (they don't) and our VPN system could handle the traffic (it would catch fire trying). Not all my users are in this country, and a fair proportion are at least sometimes online via mobile broadband with traffic caps or metering ... I suspect the three figure bill one user racked up over the weekend was from a remote desktop session, I really don't want to see that become more frequent! Not to mention usage on planes, from places which have no 3g signal or indeed no mobile coverage...
indeed, the VPN itself is pretty much a non-starter since it's too intrusive (on Windows, Cisco's braindead attempt at a client just gets in the way) although it's tolerable on Mac OS X.
GoToMyPC has gained some traction, though - remote users can just continue to use their own familiar system - and we're very happy with Dropbox: better performance at a lower price than the geriatric Novell stuff, and much better restoration facilities: we can actually get a file back from a given point in time, within minutes, without paying extra, rather than paying £10 to wait a few days for the relevant file to be retrieved from the twice-weekly tape dump.
Dropbox gives us gigabytes of space, with seamless offline access, frequent backups, near-instant restores and the performance of local storage.
Dropbox, going Google, BPOS, the infamous Cloud...
Lots of options to do this without getting mess on your own estate, depends what the users NEED, seems to be a lot of "one size fits all" solutions out there and the cases I hear where its all gone wrong are where someone didn't take into account HOW and WHERE users work so much as what they need access to.