back to article What is it about supporting remote workers?

Thanks for your feedback on this week's workshop topic, which could loosely be defined as 'remote desktop support' but actually translates more into 'trying to explain how to put out a fire using a periscope, tin can and string'. As usual we're interested in bottoming out your views, particularly to gauge whether providing IT …


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Remote support can be a joke sometimes.

IT employees can have the most biggest egos ever seen on planet earth.

Client: Hello helpdesk I am unable to log into citirix. Gives some error about not enought terminal lic. being available.

HELPDESK 2nd teir support: Well I just used it last night and this morning and it works just fine.

Client: hold on will try right now.....logging in. Nope same error.

Helpdesk: Are you sure?

Client: Ok I'll send you a screen capture via email.

Helpdesk(WOW the mantra that the client always lies makes my job so easy!)

Client.... you see it?

Helpdesk: Yeah but I think its your pc and not the server.

This type of helpdesk person needs to be fired ASAP.

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Different qualifications for "remote support."

I think "remote" support can really be broken down a few different ways. I don't consider users in my branch offices "remote users." They are inside the firewall, and the company owns, and can control via policies, the computers they use. There is remote support software, (Teamviewer, VNC, etc.) installed. They have native access to all company tools (because they are inside the firewall.) Head office and all branches have fiber connections to the net. The only way in which such users are "remote" is that there is not physically an IT body on location. (We have webcams, however, and can walk people through the basics.)

We keep spare desktops on site, and only RARELY have had to have someone at a branch office do more work on a server than "unplug the cords from the back, take it off the rack, put it in a box, and send it to head office."

So to the Freeform Dynamics guys: I think you are missing a big part of your polls and articles here: what DO people consider remote users? Why do they hold that qualification?

Things like VDI blur the lines a bit...because the VM that someone is using is certainly inside the corporate firewall, even if the [insert random device here] they are using to access it is not. So if they use VDI, they fall into a sort of "semi-remote user" category. Everything they do insofar as access to secured corporate information can be and is treated as though they were local users. The only "remote" part is that their access device may explode, and they are using an internet connection not provided by or administered by the company. This makes getting them a spare unit something that requires at least a day for overnight shipping, and internet access ends up completely out of my hands.

For me a true "remote user" is anyone who has to operate primarily outside the corporate firewall. They have requirements to synchronize data to a remote device. That device is often something that the user believes is theirs, and treats it as such. (Even if it is supplied by the company.) They will install whatever they please on it, (and if you don’t allow them to, they will find another geek to bypass whatever security you put in place.) They also generally have much threadier access to the internet. (Hotel WiFi, Airport hotspots, etc.) Their access to secured information needs to be tiered, based on the device and methodology they use to access the information. The security concerns are totally out of proportion compared to VDI, or a company controlled computer that lives inside the corporate firewall.

So, again to the Freeform Dynamics guys: I don’t believe that you can simply lump “anyone that the geeks don’t have physical access to the user’s PC” as a “remote user.” By my definitions at least, the low cost of hardware (allowing a real business case for maintaining spare units at branch offices,) modern remote support software and corporate site-to-site VPN bridges have rendered the traditional “physical access to the PC” definition of “remote user” obsolete.


Telecommuting a possibility for most IT folk

Most of the barriers are gone, making the daily commutes largely unnecessary.

However, companies prefer to keep employees in the office for bureaucratic reasons, therefor most employees are not given a choice in the matter.

In any case, companies who have seriously considered a telecommuting workforce seem to have pulled the breaks on outsourcing and offshoring as well such that employees are now competing against cheap labor across the globe.

Anonymous Coward

Home Workers & Broadband Don't Mix

The amount of times when a home user calls up saying that they can't get to the Citrix Access Gateway or OWA. Go through troubleshooting, and they can't get to the Beeb or Google either. Turns out to an issue with their own supplied ADSL connection, and they expect it to be fixed by their corporate IT dept. They then send in a complaint saying that we couldn't help, after telling them that they need to speak to their provider!

Makes me want to look after their ADSL connection, then I'll be able to undertake a little bit of BOFH'ing on their line.

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