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Wireless Strategies that Help you Save to Invest – Part 2

- June 29, 2009 - 1 Comment

A few days ago I wrote the first part in a series of blogs about the different ways mobility can help you save money. In that blog I focused on creating flexible workspaces in order to save on real estate costs. In this second installment of the series I will expand on that conversation to include teleworking.Probably the most effective means to reduce your real estate costs for office space is to create policies that allow your employees to work remotely from home (or other locations). On average for each full-time teleworker an organization can expect to save $22,000 per year on commercial real estate. This of-course on top to the other benefits of teleworking, such as:• Improved productivity (in the range of 10-25%)• Reduction in energy costs, both office space energy as well as fuel required for commuting• Reduced absenteeism (up to 63% of the cost of absenteeism per employee)• Improved recruiting by opening the pool of available talent to broader geographic regions• Reduced employee turnover • Speedier rebound during moments of crisis• Improved public health• Reduced continuity costsThe list goes on…it is no surprise therefore that teleworking has taken off recently and the number of teleworkers is expected to reach 112 million by the year 2011 according to Gartner Dataquest Insight: Teleworking, the Quiet Revolution (2007 update).I am one of these teleworkers — and loving it — spending pretty much every Friday working from home. When I first started teleworking, I would point my laptop to my home router SSID connect to the network and then VPN (Virtual Private Network) into the corporate network so that I could get email, instant messaging, and sharepoint access, etc. If I was working from another location, say a hotel, I would open my iPass find a network I could associate to, and repeat the VPN drill. Unfortunately, most remote users are not always as diligent as I am with regard to following corporate security policies. The pervasiveness of wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi hotspots, peer to peer networks, and 3G has increased user appetite for anywhere/anytime connectivity but at the same time seems to have lowered wireless security consciousness. Since Wi-Fi is an unlicensed spectrum there are plenty of hackers looking to exploit vulnerable clients. So, how do IT administrators enforce a client policy that prevents users that neglect to launch their VPN, from connecting to unsecured networks? Well, you quite simply eliminate the unnecessary steps (in this case the VPN authentication) by extending corporate network security policies to remote locations. The newly released OfficeExtend solution from Cisco does all the security work so that employees don’t need to be bothered with launching a VPN client. I have been lucky enough to use the OfficeExtend for the past year already and I’m already spoiled and wouldn’t think of going back to my old habits. My network access experience is much better, not to mention that I also have a Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phone 7921 which connects to the phone SSID so I can answer my office line at home. As great as OfficeExtendis, it does have one flaw — it makes me forget my SoftToken password, which makes the occasional VPNing from coffee shops a pain…

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  1. Eliminating the VPN authentication process and making it seamless is definitely a great step to reduce the barrier of connecting to corporate securely. I have gone through hardware VPN boxes that are as big as a phone and look very uncool when I am in conferences trying to connect to corporate. Then they switch to the ones with keys which eliminate the big box which is great but still a pain because I have to look at the numbers changing each time. Not having to think about VPN authentication is a great first step to secured corporate communications.