The previous article set out the options
for remote access to corporate voice and data systems, essential
for effective anywhere / anytime working.
The concept is that the corporate
"desktop" (PC and phone) is "stretched" to
the remote location securely through the public electronic
networks - the telephone network and the Internet.
In this article we outline the
characteristics and implementation issues of the two main
The location-independent PC:
large organisations have chosen to configure all their PCs
identically to simplify management and support.
Customisation is performed at log-in, at which time the
specific configuration is downloaded from a server.
This can include desktop "look and feel",
e-mail and groupware personal data, history files and
applications access rights.
incidental benefit of a common operating environment throughout
the organisation is that mobile staff can log-in to any PC or
plug their laptops into any network access point.
Some large companies even extend this concept
internationally, so travelling executives are able to keep in
touch and continue working, wherever in the company they may be.
this concept away from the corporation's network is technically
straightforward, using the techniques outlined above. It is however sometimes impractical as the time taken to
synchronise and customise over low bandwidth connections may be
laptop and home PC users, most of the customisation can be
pre-installed, reducing log-in downloads mainly to e-mail,
calendar and other data. When
using shared PCs, for example in cybercafés, staff might be limited to accessing (with appropriate security) the
corporate intranet and other web-enabled applications.
portable PCs, sometimes called palmtops, personal digital
assistants or pocket PCs, can offer diary, contacts management,
e-mail and other applications.
Increasingly these can be synchronised with corporate
networks, adding another option for mobile workers.
The location-independent phone:
people give out their mobile phone numbers to their contacts,
knowing that calls will reach them wherever they are.
There are however several problems with this approach:
of service is often poor - coverage, drop-outs, call
to the caller are high
phones are rarely integrated with the corporate systems:
call transfer, conferencing and other facilities are not
operators also offer location-independent numbers using the
fixed network: the user controls where he or she wants the call
normally use premium rate tariffs; they are also difficult to
integrate with corporate systems.
preferred approach at present is to enable so-called
"virtual numbering" and "follow-me" services
on the corporate network. The
user's direct dial number can be redirected by the user to any
other number: internal, external fixed network, external mobile
network, voice-mail, etc. However each redirected call beyond the internal network
incurs a charge to the company and the value of this type of
service comes at a cost which some organisations may not wish to
for the future