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Virtual Private Networks

A Virtual private Network (VPN) is a network of computers that are connected securely despite being in different places. It is a private network built across a public network, such as the Internet, to enable secure sending and receiving of messages as well as secure remote access to shared computer facilities. These can include the office file server, printers, other users' computers and back-up devices. In essence for teleworkers, VPNs provide a secure link across the internet to the employer's internal network.

The most common method of achieving this is via a 'software client' - a piece of software that is installed on the remote computer which establishes connectivity via similar software installed on the central computer. Other methods involve protocols built into network equipment. The key point to remember is that the VPN allows a remote user to experience almost the same computer environment that is enjoyed by colleagues who are located at the central office with their computers connected to the company LAN (Local Area Network)

Cloud-based Computing

Cloud based computing uses a network of computers connected to the internet and accessed by the user in 'real-time' communication. A broad range of users share resources and services efficiently, cost effectively and, as a result, with higher reliability.

With cloud-based computing, businesses essentially outsource their application and underlying computing needs to service providers. With this model, the teleworker is on a similar footing to the worker at the office with both of them accessing the businesses' data, email systems and files securely via the internet. Some of the benefits of cloud computing for teleworkers include:

    • Globalises the business, regardless of location.

    • Flexibility, the cloud is readily available in meeting greater demand for computer resources such as file space

    • With some cloud applications, there can be better collaboration tools.

    • With some cloud applications there can be improved document control and privacy systems – though privacy and security are also seen as potential risks (see separate topic on this)

    • Security – Data can be accessed on the cloud even if the remote device gets lost, stolen or damaged.

    • The cloud enables small businesses to set up facilities (including telework facilities) faster than large, established businesses.

    • It's environmentally friendly! For some small businesses, energy use can be cut and carbon emissions may be lower overall.


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