Accessing computer files and documents away from the office is becoming second nature for today’s knowledge workers. They take it as read that they will be able to work from home, check sales figures on a smartphone in an airport lounge or access marketing charts when visiting customers.
Remote access software helps make this new decentralized working environment possible. It connects staff to their company data, allowing them to access applications and content when and where they need from a variety of devices.
Trouble is, if the remote access technology doesn’t operate smoothly, staff invariably cut corners and start using their own unencrypted and unsecured remote methods.
They’ll use their personal email accounts and shared web documents, downloading sensitive information on to their unprotected devices. This puts data security at risk and compromises corporate processes and regulatory compliance.
To avoid this, IT bosses are looking to deploy remote access software that is secure, seamless and easy for even the most technophobic staff member to handle.
But with so many vendors on the market offering dozens of different features and subscription models, IT directors struggle to identify the system which is right for their business.
Each business is unique, and depending on the industry you’re in, some providers are better equipped to support your needs than others. The technology should offer features that enhance the way the company does business and make interaction between staff a breeze. It should also be flexible enough to accommodate a range of use cases, so you’re not forced to deploy multiple software solutions.
Here are some key points to consider when choosing a remote access software provider.
Unless the remote access software is user-friendly, your teams are likely to reject it entirely. It must make it easy for everyone to get to grips with its features, so they can enjoy the full benefits. If it is clunky, or contains complex, unnecessary features (bloat), it will damage staff motivation and lead to poor productivity.
Supporting a range of different use cases demands a clean, simple interface that can be used by different teams. It’s crucial that it doesn’t cause more problems than it solves. It should be easy to use across a multitude of devices.
Security is a paramount priority when it comes to remote access. IT Infrastructure should come with a robust security architecture that protects against data breaches and attacks. Remote access software creates a connection between two devices, but often, the connection must traverse an unknown, untrusted environment. Colleagues are often logging in from airports, hotels, or cafes, so encryption and authentication are vital.
Look for remote access systems offering end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and the option to upgrade to 256-bit encryption especially when sensitive data or compliance issues are in play.
Bear in mind that the remote access system must comply with your industry rules and regulations just like any other technology. If your business works with an e-commerce platform that processes credit card data, this will require a product that helps to support “PCI-compliance”. For example, this can require two-factor authentication across all devices in the system. If the remote access provider fails to support this, it will impede compliance and could cause reputational damage.
Meanwhile, healthcare providers must use a tool that supports HIPAA compliance requirements. In which case your provider will need to clearly document how the tool collects and transmits data. Compliance with the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) rules is another consideration. This can be supported by a robust security architecture that is transparent and clearly documented.
These are important security considerations when choosing a remote access provider, particularly when demonstrating due diligence in every other area of your compliance procedures.
Support and maintenance
In the first few days of implementation, there will inevitably be a learning curve. So, it’s reassuring to know that your chosen vendor has a reliable support technical team on hand.
Given the close cooperation your organization will have with the remote access provider, think about the cultural fit between the organizations. In addition, your vendor should provide ongoing feature updates and respond quickly with patches if new security issues arise. This should all be part of your standard subscription and not an extra cost option.
This brings us neatly to cost, which is always a decisive factor. Unfortunately, different vendors often have different subscription models making it difficult to compare “apples to apples”. The important thing is to select a product based on how it supports the requirements for your entire business, making sure that the subscription model is financially sustainable.
Any provider that struggles to give a satisfactory answer to any of these questions is probably not the right one for your business. With so many options on the market, you’ll need to do some careful research to find a supplier that matches your specific needs.