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Stay connected on the road.

Christakis, VanOcker. Morrison Engineers & Constructors (CVM) is an organization that is literally on the more: engineers, scientists and construction managers are often on the road. Reliable access to critical information in the corporate office while at a remote location is of paramount importance. Employees in the field need to access architectural drawings, fill in time sheets, provide field reports, deliver presentations, submit applications for payment, and more. Failure to consistently connect to the home office via a laptop in the field or from a PC at home could result in lost hours, lower productivity, user frustration and unnecessary trips back to the office.

CVM consists of a team of structural engineers, materials scientists and construction managers focused on facilities renewal--the design, restoration, repair and enhancement of buildings and infrastructure. Projects range from academic, institutional and commercial buildings to performing arts, sports and entertainment centers, advanced technology manufacturing facilities, and special mechanical structures.

Ken Balch, IT manager for CVM, wanted a secure mobile solution that would enable CVM workers to securely access the data and tools they needed from any location, using any type of device--cell phone, laptop or home PC. The initial solution he tried, however, was less than satisfactory.

"We were looking for a solution that would establish a virtual private network (VPN) connection with the PC and tunneling into a PC in the office that you could log into," says Balch. "But we ran into a multitude of issues just trying to manage the VPN. If somebody had a remote PC that had a different version of Windows on it than that of the home office PC, you'd sometimes have to hunt for the right version of VPN software just so the system would run."

There were other problems, but, for CVM, the main ones centered on accessibility challenges and ultimately, user frustration and lost productivity.

"Some people could just never get it to function," Balch says. "A lot of people had to do what they could remotely, and then e-mail a file to someone here in the office, or actually be forced to come into the office to get what they needed. It was a nightmare."

Balch then discovered the FirePass Controller from F5 Networks, a secure socket layer (SSL) VPN appliance-based solution that lets employees, customers and partners securely and reliably access authorized applications from any Web-enabled device, from any location. No special software or configuration is required on the remote device, and no modifications are necessary to the back-end resources being accessed.

Because SSL VPNs utilize encryption capabilities that already come built into Web browsers, they do not require separate software installation and maintenance on each user device beyond the browser. SSL VPN devices also provide access to specific applications, rather than entire subnets. This allows for centralized, fine-grained policy administration, security enforcement and access control.

"It gave us the flexibility to truly have the PC work like a node--a direct line in--when workers were at a remote location," Balch says. "This is one of the very few products that we just plugged in and had work. We didn't have to perform log-in scripts for people to dial into the Internet. establish connections through the VPN, start the VPN."

For more information from F5 Networks: www.rsleads.eom/404cn-256
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Title Annotation:reliable access to critical information in the corporate office while at a remote location is of paramount importance
Comment:Stay connected on the road.(reliable access to critical information in the corporate office while at a remote location is of paramount importance)
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:544
Previous Article:Secure networks: changing business models and complexity of threats force new approaches to network security.
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