Accessing the office when you’re out

Anthony Caruana
3 October, 2014
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Mac-in-Business

Remote, access, business, macworld australiaWhile we often hear about all of the benefits that ubiquitous communications and mobile devices deliver, there is a downside. Some of the tools we rely on simply don’t work as well on smaller devices. And there are some services that our customers rely on that we need to have available regardless of where we are and what device we have at hand.

Remote computer access

There are times when there’s an application or file on your computer that you just need to use when out of the office. There was a time when accessing a computer remotely was difficult and required changes to your firewall and complex configuration.

However services such as LogMeIn and Back to my Mac have simplified those processes significantly.

LogMeIn relies on you signing up to a cloud service. You install a small app on your Mac and a client application on your iOS device. The cloud service ‘brokers’ a connection between the two ends without the need to set up firewall rules or make configuration changes on your router.

LogMeIn offer a range of different services and packages depending on how many users are in your organisation and your specific needs. For example, there are services tailored for IT support as well as regular remote access with the capability to print documents and listen to sound remotely.

Apple’s Back to my Mac leverages OS X’s Unix roots by using VNC as the basis for its service. Although it may require some firewall changes for use, if you’re using Apple’s AirPort Extreme it should work right out of the box once it’s enabled in System Preferences on your Mac.

VoIP

VoIP has significantly disrupted the telecommunications industry. Instead of being tethered to the phone system, you can make and receive calls using the internet as the infrastructure you connect to.

One of the key parts of VoIP is a standard called SIP – the Session Initiation Protocol. If you install a SIP client on your portable device it’s possible to access your VoIP service from anywhere with an internet connection.

Many VoIP providers offer a SIP client for mobile devices. However, you’re not necessarily stuck with what they offer. There are many free SIP clients in the App Store that you can use. All you need are the connection details that would have been provided in the welcoming email or documentation delivered when you signed on for the service.

Once your client software is correctly configured, you can make and receive calls from anywhere and your clients won’t know you’re not in the office.

Cloud applications

Cloud applications and storage allow you to keep working regardless of your device and location.

SaaS, or Software as a Service, offerings such as Office 365, Google Apps, Xero, Saasu, SugarCRM and SalesForce allow you to maintain access to all your critical business functions and activities without being tethered to a specific device or location.

When you’re dealing with a client, you can use SaaS applications to look up customer data, enter invoices, and check on past contacts – anything you can do with a traditional application can be done with a SaaS program.

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