Internet-based remote connectivity solutions are a natural place to start, as most professionals find themselves connected to the Internet around the clock (working from their homes or any other place in the world).
What if remote workers could utilize the capabilities of their corporate IP-PBX from home, or while at a satellite office or on the road? VoIP, of course, is likely the first thought. But what about IM? Video? Conferencing? Whiteboarding applications? These, too, would be a tremendous asset to the remote worker. And it’s all possible, right now.
There are several issues IT managers must address when enabling remote workers:
Solving the NAT traversal issue at the remote sites: There are many solutions available. The IETF has recommended ICE (Interactive Connectivity Establishment) to resolve NAT traversal issues. However, other methods of traversing common NATs are available on SIP-aware firewalls that employ far-end NAT traversal techniques to maintain a connection with a remote site. This at the same time as they solve near-end NAT traversal at the headquarters/corporate site.
Security: Utilizing equipment that secures the SIP traffic is essential. Choose solutions that support Secure Real Time Protocol (SRTP) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). Used with voice data, SRTP and TLS provide one of the most secure environments for Internet telephony and VoIP applications available.
In addition, equipment must also secure the network/users from attacks and intrusion. SIP-aware firewalls are a great solution here as they can serve as enterprise-class firewalls for traditional data, while at the same time providing SIP capabilities (and securing them as well, too).
While there are certainly additional issues, these two are the most urgent to address. Once a remote worker is up and running, they can enjoy a wide variety of SIP-based applications – in collaboration with their corporate office – to improve productivity and develop a rich working environment.
One of the most exciting aspects about remote workers is deploying the same technology with customers. Imagine providing your best customers access to call your tech team for free, from anywhere in the world. In this context, IM is an invaluable business tool (as are presence applications). The opportunities are limitless when we broaden the way we think about IP communications.