Trying to imagine how to run an office in Los Angeles, New York City and London (with thoughts of Paris)? Well, there are a whole host of products looking to make your life easier. The hard part is figuring out which ones work best for each and every specific environment. Usually it boils down to matching your company’s business logic to products that are offered with an emphasis of working within your budget while attaining goals set forth by senior management.
Typically, the most paramount need businesses have with Remote Access Services (RAS) is file sharing. From Word and Excel documents to Final Cut projects, sharing files means sharing budgets, pictures, correspondence and other digital assets. It becomes increasingly important for individuals to be able to share files the larger an organization grows Ã and increasingly important to ensure that it’s done so securely.
There are technologies today that allow for the efficient sharing of large files.
Companies with file servers know that a central repository (or a server) has many benefits, but when opening branch offices, special considerations must be given to the access that individuals have to the place where everyone’s data resides. Companies that haven’t yet encountered a need for a server may find that it is essentially required in order to share data between remote locations. Sometimes, files that are easily shared locally on one server, become difficult to share between remote locations due to size or motion video issues.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the most common method in securely connecting multiple offices or locations. This is often handled within a company’s gateway (router). VPNs send data over the public Internet through encrypted “tunnels.” Using a VPN to connect two or more networks is also a way to help ensure ease of use, which becomes paramount in organizations that are increasingly complex from a technical point of view.
VPN Encryption ensures safe delivery of your data.
The second most common type of data for sharing between multiple locations is contacts, calendars and schedules. This type of sharing is often called “groupware.” Cross-Platform groupware products include Microsoft Exchange and Now Up-To-Date/Now Contact.
Groupware means workflow automation.
Exchange, a centrally managed groupware solution, allows staff members highly configurable access to items that other staff members or workgroup members are working on. With the release of Office 2004, most of the Exchange features available for the PC are now available through the Mac. Sharing calendars, emails and contacts is what Exchange is all about. However, the product is still a little limited in what it can do on the Mac.
Many cross-platform companies still have the need for this detailed level of sharing, and have turned to products like Now Up-To-Date and Now Contact. With Now Up-To-Date it is possible to view schedules across networks easily. One use of this has been to use a key to specifically switch between the calendars of Editors in London and editors in Los Angeles. This allows one person to handle schedules in multiple offices, and everyone to see live scheduling data.
The same goes for contacts. Using Keywords or categories (two different options), users can find contacts quickly based in whichever city they choose. Using the notes feature of Now Contact, it is possible to track correspondence, meetings and phone calls on a per contact basis. This way, each person that talks to a client is able to see who spoke to him or her last, when they spoke to them and what it was about. This enables companies to rely on the data as opposed to the people, allowing business processes to occur out of any office they choose.