The use of iPad and other tablet devices, cell phones, etc. has grown tremendously over the last several years. The need to access our data from any device, and from anywhere with an internet connection has become a major concern. When PSI discusses remote access with a client, one of the first questions asked by a client is about accessing your applications and data while outside the office.
Traditionally, remote access was known as Terminal Services. It required a dedicated server, and your IT vendor would have to configure each user’s laptop or desktop to connect to the terminal server. Starting with Windows Server 2008R2, Microsoft started to update this technology and renamed it Remote Desktop Services. New features were added, the process became simpler to deploy, but the biggest change came with Windows Server 2012/2012R2. In this release, Microsoft updated a portion of remote desktop services called RemoteApp. Also with the 2012 release, the need for a dedicated server was decreased, allowing more SMB’s to adopt this technology. Utilizing Microsoft Hyper-V, PSI can virtualize multiple servers in 1 physical server, reducing your hardware costs, and better leveraging your technology.
RemoteApp allows users to launch applications from a webpage, or any device that can run the Microsoft Remote Desktop app (this includes iPad, iPhone, and most devices powered by Android). By utilizing RemoteApp technology, a business can use any device they want to launch programs such as Word, Excel, Time Matters, Worldox, and Timeslips.
Once launched, the applications looks and feels like it is installed on the device. Users interact with the application just like they would on a PC. Each app has access to any network based file shares and network printers. And since RemoteApp is web based, users can simply use their email address to configure a device with minimal intervention by your IT vendor or consultant. When you are finished working, simply close the app, and you will return to your devices home screen. Access to apps can also be controlled with security groups, so only specific users or departments have access to the RemoteApp feature.
We can also use RemoteApp to provide a full desktop based experience where the user launches a RemoteApp to connect them to the desktop of the Remote Desktop Server. Users then have the full desktop experience as if they were sitting a laptop or desktop within the office. Server 2012R2 is able to take advantage of touch screen and can detect if your device has a touch screen or not. If it does, icons and menus will be enlarged, making them easier to tap with your finger. Office 2013, 2016, and Adobe Acrobat also can take advantage of your remote device’s touch screen.
With publishing this data on the internet, there is also a need to take steps to verify your data stays secure. RemoteApp requires that a business use a SSL certificate from a publically trusted company before application can be accessed remotely. The SSL cert helps keep your connection secure and prevent intruders from viewing your data. This will NOT prevent intruders from intercepting data on open WiFi networks, such as those found at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, many hotels, etc. You should also use a MiFi style device or your cell phone to provide secure Wi-Fi in those situations.
If your business is interested in increasing your ability to access applications and data remotely, please contact Plummer Slade today. We have all of the tools at our fingertips to start building your remote infrastructure for you.