Networking: A Beginner's Guide
You generally need different strategies to support these various types of users. Of
course, if you're working in a small company, you likely won't have to support all
these categories right off the bat.
What Types of Remote Access Are Required?
Before implementing any remote access system, you must define clearly the types of
remote access required by the users in the company. The following are some examples
of remote access needs:
Easy remote access to e-mail and to files stored in e-mail
Remote access to stored private or shared files on the LAN
Remote access to a centralized application, such as an accounting system or
a sales order system
Remote access to groupware programs or custom applications
Intranet/extranet access, including any hosted web-based applications on those
Remote access to any of the previous features from a fixed location, such as a
remote sales office
Remote access to any of the previous features from anywhere in the world
To understand your specific remote access support needs, interview all the potential
users (or at least a representative subset) and find out how to categorize them, as
described in the previous section. Chances are that you must support remote access
through more than one mechanism. How you categorize the users and their needs will
suggest which mechanisms make sense.
When you interview the users, carefully probe all possible needs. For example, if
you ask them if they need remote access to the files stored in their LAN directories and
they reply, "not really," that's not an adequate answer. You need to pin them down by
asking questions such as, "Will you ever need remote access to files? What if you had
only e-mail access? Could your assistant e-mail you any needed files?"
Once you have come up with different remote access needs in your company, try to
survey the users in writing to inquire about their specific needs. Not only should you
get less ambiguous answers, but you also get important documentation to justify the
expenses and effort in acquiring and setting up the remote access systems needed.
How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
When examining remote access needs, you need to estimate bandwidth requirements and
tolerances for the different users. This is important for planning and also for appropriately
setting user expectations. For example, if salespeople want minute-to-minute access
to a sales-tracking system and also frequently want to download 10MB file packages to