Remote access networks provide the
infrastructure necessary to support access to
the corporate network from remote sites such as
the branch office, and small office/home office
(SOHO). In the past, remote access to corporate
networks was plagued by high cost, poor
performance, low-speed modems, and security
issues. However, the remote access network
market is currently experiencing an explosive
growth, and several factors have combined to
make it a very dynamic market segment of the
networking industry. These factors include the
- 1. Advances
in telecommunications. The steady
improvement in modem speed and availability of
high-speed lines, such as the integrated
services digital network (ISDN) lines, are
continually pushing the remote access
communication performance to be comparable to
that received by a user that accesses the
corporate network from within the company
- 2. Telecommuting.
A telecommuter is an employee that spends most
of his or her time working from home.
Telecommuting started with the need to reduce
highway traffic and increase the air quality.
Many companies claim that their telecommuting
programs have increased productivity, improved
quality of life, and decreased absenteeism.
This has led to an increasing population of
telecommuters as more companies make the
telecommuting option available to their
employees. Even where there is no official
corporate policy on it, telecommuters include
people who, for many reasons, choose to work
permanently at home and dial into the
corporate LAN. Similarly, they include people
who take their work home and dial into the
corporate network from home to finish the
Advances in telecommunications have led to the
concept of “office-anywhere” or virtual
office whereby employees can connect to
the corporate network from remote locations.
This has increased the need for telecommuting.
In addition, telecommuting will be essential
as communities try to reduce air pollution by
cutting back on highway traffic.
- 3. Mobile
workers. The increasing computing power of
notebook computers has helped extend the
corporate network to include mobile workers.
These workers, who are involved mostly in
sales, service, and support, use the remote
access network to log in to the corporate
network to read their e-mail and participate
in discussion groups. Mobile workers also
include traveling managers who connect to the
corporate network from airports, hotels, and
even in transit between locations, to check
- 4. Internet
access. The popularity of the Internet,
the world’s largest wide area network (WAN),
has accelerated the growth of the remote
access network. We are in an information age
when almost everybody wants to be connected to
the Internet. All that a user needs is a
personal computer (PC), a modem, and an
account with an Internet Service Provider
(ISP) and the user is able to join millions of
other Internet users to exchange e-mails,
access electronic billboard services,
participate in discussion groups, and download
information from the World Wide Web.
- 5. Rise
of virtual corporations. The Internet has
given rise to the virtual corporation,
which may be defined as a geographically
distributed organization that coordinates it
work via electronic communication. In a
virtual corporation, workers usually work from
home or remote offices, and remote access
networking is their lifeline.
- 6. Branch
office access to the enterprise network.
Advances in telecommunications have
essentially shortened the distance between a
branch office and the corporate headquarters.
The remote access network is driving this
change and making it possible for workers at
remote branch offices to have full access to
the corporate network and thus participate in
discussion groups and collaborative work with
other workers in the company.
- 7. Growth
of the extranet. The use of the Internet
as the WAN of choice for enterprise
communication has generated a new class of
Internet-related networking concepts. One of
these concepts is the intranet, which
is a private network that has the Internet
technology as its underlying architecture. An
intranet is shielded from external access by
firewall protection. However, there is a
growing need for vendors, and even some
customers, to dial in to the corporate network
to check inventory status or place orders.
This has led to the extension of the intranet
and created a new concept called extranet
which is used to describe an intranet that
grants access to vendors, special customers,
and strategic partners. The extranet is now
seen as an important customer service vehicle
that can be used to disseminate messages to
corporate customers and shareholders.
- 8. Growth
of broadband services. A broadband service
is one that requires a transmission rate
greater than the T1 rate of 1.544 Mbps. The
advent of ISDN has made several broadband
services possible. These services are usually
accessed via primary rate ISDN connections
from such locations as doctors’ offices, legal
services offices, educational institutions,
government agencies, healthcare institutions,
retail operations, and corporate offices.
Typical broadband services that have helped to
advance remote access networking include:
- A service that permits
doctors and other medical personnel to review
patient records from remote offices.
- A real-time, bidirectional
service that permits the exchange of audio,
video, and data information among multiple
users at separate locations.
- A service that allows the
user to browse video catalogs or virtual shops
to purchase products and services.
- Distance learning.
- A service that provides a
“virtual classroom.” The teacher and student
are at different locations.
- A network-delivered service
that offers the functionality of a home video
- A service that provides
multiple users with immediate real-time access
to multiple TV/radio/data programming.
- A specific broadcast that
allows the user to view special TV programs
without requiring a dedicated point-to-point
connection for each user. Titles and start
times are broadcast and the user selects a
service at a designated time.
- A service that allows two
users at separate locations to initiate and
control a conversation that may include the
real-time, bidirectional exchange of audio,
video, and other data.