Is VPN the ideal set-up for remote working?

Gagan Nain

Unilab

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Quick Summary

  • VPN is a costly option for remote working due to expenses on set-up and application licencing
  • Providing VPN and a full user licence does not make commercial sense when usage is low
  • MoxyViewer solves this problem by allowing users to share one user licence while working remote

Remote working arrangement is a must-have

The pandemic has propelled many businesses to fully embrace remote working as one of the most essential capabilities they need to establish. In many cases this is to enable employees to work from home or in fact, anywhere they are, even if they are stranded overseas due to border closures.

The question is how to do this cost-effectively and securely.

The common practice would be to set up a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) that extends to each and every remote employee’s workstation, be it a desktop or laptop. This grants that employee access to the organisation’s private network. He or she could then start using resources on the intranet (i.e. an office printer) and transfer data to and from business applications. 

Such a VPN is typically set-up and maintained by IT professionals, whether in-house or outsourced. Its complexity is beyond a non-technical person.

Is VPN really an ideal set-up?

While this practice is the standard go-to solution for many small to medium businesses, is it really ideal in every scenario?

Let’s consider first the cost. As a business you will need to enlist the help of IT professionals or at least someone with enough technical capability. This equates to an average salary of circa $80k to $100k p.a. (in-house specialist) or a monthly reoccurring managed IT service fee (outsourced). Then there is the licensing cost for every employee who needs to use your business applications, regardless of how frequent the usage is. What if you only need to temporarily hire someone? Do you still set up a VPN access and purchase a full user licence?

This is the problem of over-subscribing resources for a low level of usage. For instance, a sales person who needs to log on once a day or perhaps a contractor who needs access only when there is a job. Do they need a full user licence for the business applications they use? Would the return justify the licence cost given the low usage? 

How to save costs on user licence?

This is where I think a remote desktop protocol (RDP) solution such as MoxyViewer would make more sense. In a MoxyViewer scenario, the user gains access to a desktop or laptop environment from another machine via the RDP. Put simply the user not only sees the remote desktop but also can control that remote desktop. VPN on the other hand is connecting the user’s own machine into the network, instead of letting the user see and control another one.

So why does RDP solutions like MoxyViewer makes sense where VPN doesn’t? 

It comes down to being cost-effective. For those employees with low usage of applications, instead of purchasing their own licence, they could simply connect to a machine already set up in the main office via MoxyViewer. They could still perform required tasks, without the licensing and VPN costs. 

This is also one of the main reasons of why we built the MoxyViewer product. Our original cohort of users were staff and students of tertiary education institutions who needed to access highly specialised applications for learning and research purposes. It was impossible to have each and every one of them purchasing a separate user licence. It was simply uneconomical for the level of usage. 

Teaching staff and students would have to come onsite to use those applications but during the pandemic when lockdown was enforced, it became a burning issue. So MoxyViewer was created to solve it. People could remote access workstations in the university labs, on which fully-licenced applications were already set-up. 

The same problem of high cost but low usage is prevalent in the business community. Perhaps now is the time for a rethink.

Gagan Nain

Unilab commits to providing creative solutions connecting people and devices, friends and family, and businesses of any size. We strive to offer digital and touch screen solutions to research facilities, leading universities, and businesses.

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