Remote access and collaboration planning

Remote access and collaboration have been key components of Stringfellow technology roadmaps since 2006. It all started with moving users to “hosted” Exchange mailboxes, which sounds very dated in today’s world of Office 365 services. Today we focus on a cloud-first and servers-to-services mentality for all our roadmaps.

The following are key components of building out your remote access and collaboration capabilities. They are also ordered from shortest to longest implementation timeline in the case you need to “get something in place” ASAP!

Remote Access Configuration Options

Remote Desktop Gateway/Terminal Server
This provides for a remote desktop with full access to your corporate network, files, and applications.  This is often used when server-based applications are in use at the corporate office that is not yet cloud-based.  The only disadvantage to this approach is that your physical office must have power/Internet access for it to work.

During the recent shift to WFH this has been a popular option to get users remotely connected with minimal overhead and a high level of security when using home devices.

VPN-based connectivity
This is a legacy method of remote access but still required in certain situations.  This is configuring VPN access directly to a Client’s corporate network through the firewall.  We require SSL VPN technology for this.  Non-corporate workstations should not be configured with this, as it is a security issue.  In this case, we would recommend a Remote Desktop Server setup.

We DO NOT recommend VPNs for accessing file shares on your network. This is very slow and there are much better options available! (see below)

Microsoft OneDrive/SharePoint
We are putting on all Technology Roadmaps the implementation of both user and shared files to these platforms.  For those of you with a local server-based “shared drive” moving files to SharePoint/OneDrive will allow for remote access from anywhere on any device.  In some cases this is not possible due to application dependencies, but user files can always be moved to the OneDrive. This is also a prerequisite for utilizing Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams
This is a great product and one that we have been discussing with many of you.  It allows for collaboration and sharing with chat, files, channels, and online meetings.  Teams is typically implemented based on how your organization is structured and included moving your files into OneDrive/SharePoint as well.  We have found that Teams can also largely replace (inefficient) internal emails via proper usage of Channels and teams.

Please note we believe strongly in a formal Teams implementation, and not just “turning it on”….

Azure Server Hosting
Moving your entire server infrastructure to Azure (cloud) is recommended for a Client that utilizes server-based applications that will not have cloud versions in the future.  This also is the highest form of disaster recovery protection as all services are run in the cloud. The ability to lift and shift entire local servers into the cloud makes this a viable option for most businesses.

Please note that setting up a Remote Desktop Server for access to your Azure-based servers is typically required for ease of access.