Remote Connectivity is all you about being somewhere other than in your office but having your computer behave as if it were still located in the office. It's an excellent way to be productive while traveling or even telecommuting from home since you have access to every resource you would have if you were at work. Remote connectivity can also be used to connect branch or remote offices without the expensive cost of having dedicated digital lines.
The basic technology of remote connectivity is called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Simply put, you use the public Internet and a set of security protocols to link into your office network. All network traffic is encrypted and authenticated to make sure that no one else can access the information that you are exchanging. This is referred to as a VPN tunnel since only the ends are open while everything else is shielded from public view.
There are three components to a VPN:
When you or your company signs up for Internet service, such as DSL or cable, the provider automatically assigns you an IP Address from its available pool of addresses. Nowadays, this process is completely automated and chances are that you aren't even aware of this happening. However, your provider does not guarantee that you will keep the same number from one day to another.
Why is this important? If you are trying to connect to your office network from home, you need to know the address your company's network. If this keeps changing, you basically won't be able to "phone home". That's where static addresses come in. For a small added monthly fee, your Internet provider is willing to provide you with one or more IP Addresses that are dedicated to you or your company. Once this is set, you will always know how to get to your VPN Server.
VPN Server or Device
Although the myriad of security and authentication protocols are beyond the scope of this article, it is safe to say that most VPN devices can be set up with some very high level security and encryption. Most network hardware manufacturers offer routers that have a VPN option as part of their normal firewall package. In a Microsoft environment, even a dedicated Windows XP Pro or Vista Business computer can act as a VPN server although it isn't as robust or as versatile as a true server such as Windows Server 2003 or 2008. In addition, Linux computers are being used more and more frequently to provide firewall and VPN functions because of both their speed and low cost.
VPN Client Software