Over the past year, many businesses turned to managed services providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) to help them connect remote workers to their networks, applications and data during the pandemic. With no time to spare, companies quickly chose remote control software, virtual private network (VPN) or virtual desktop solutions to keep their employees connected when their work model suddenly changed.
About a year after the pandemic began, however, businesses are taking a hard look at remote work and the systems that enable it. A survey by Growmotely found that about 75 percent of business leaders and their professional employees believe remote work is the new way of working, and only 3 percent want to work full time at a physical office after the pandemic. For businesses, it reduces overhead and expands the pool of potential candidates beyond only those who live near the company or are willing to relocate. Employees want the flexibility, time savings and work-life balance that working from home offers.
With a new long-term perspective on remote work, customers want the best solution for their work-from-home employees and their businesses.
Cutting Through the Remote Technology Confusion
Your clients may use the terms remote control or remote access, VPN, and virtual desktop interchangeably, but it’s important to make sure they understand the differences.
- Remote control software allows users to access and control their office computers remotely.
- A VPN is a private network built on top of a larger network (often the internet) that enables employees to use applications they’d only otherwise be able to use on the business’ local network.
- A virtual desktop is a preconfigured image of operating systems and applications that keeps the desktop independent from the hardware the employee uses, whether it’s a PC in the office or a laptop or tablet at home.
Why Users Choose Remote Control Software
Matthew Adkins, service coordinator at SunPoint IT Solutions, LLC, based in Oakland, CA, and a member of The ASCII Group, says some businesses have chosen to use remote control software during the pandemic, primarily ConnectWise Control (formerly ScreenConnect) and Splashtop.
He says they base their choice on simplicity, security, and cost. “Many SMBs have employees working at home using personal computers that are usually not secured or maintained by an MSP or IT department,” he explains. “Directly connecting those PCs over a VPN can open up the company network to ransomware. Software such as Splashtop is generally easy to use, can be cheaper than buying new office networking hardware, and allows the employee to work without their untrusted home PC touching the network.”
Adkins adds that remote control software is typically very secure, but there are some risks associated with using it. “As with any password-accessed system, you run the risk of a bad actor getting your credentials with a keylogger, through phishing, or an unrelated system that’s hacked and the user has the same password everywhere. The remote control server could even be breached. A good security program and enabling two-factor authentication will greatly diminish the risks.”
He says in some situations, remote access can slow employees down; for example, if internet speed is slow, their home computer performance is subpar, or they have a small monitor. Depending on the application the business chooses, it may not work as well for employees with Macs vs. PCs.
Build Choice into Your Portfolio
Adkins says in addition to remote access, he also offers his clients secure VPN through Meraki appliances. “Our focus, though, is using Microsoft 365 and Azure to allow workers to easily and securely access their data and collaborate from laptops with SharePoint, One Drive, and virtual desktops,” he says.
Building choices into your portfolio is always a smart strategy — one way of enabling employees to connect remotely will probably not suit every one of your clients’ needs. But you can count on the fact that the vast majority of your clients will continue to use these solutions throughout the pandemic and beyond.
It’s time to evaluate your vendor partnerships and create the optimal value-added remote control software and remote access solutions for your clients. With options that work for the businesses you serve, you can ensure remote workers have the anywhere, anytime, secure access they need to keep their businesses up and running.
These solutions can also help you build stickier relationships and sell deeper into your current customer base. With the right mix of solutions, marketing and sales, remote work may become a new growth area for your business.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.