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Increasingly, organizations are viewing remote access solutions as a necessity, not an option.
Whether your staff is snowed in, whether they want to get some extra work done over the weekend, or whether they live ten states away from your office, they need some method of tapping into your network from afar.
As a technology services company, then, you can imagine that we have gotten quite a few questions about what a remote access is going to cost. This is a logical place to start, and an important question to ask when it comes to finding the solution that is most feasible for your organization.
Below we’ll work through the different kinds of remote access solutions, along with the average price range for each of them.
What are the different kinds of remote access?
There are three main technologies to consider when it comes to remote access. The solution you choose will depend on what you want remote access to, along with how you want that access to function:
1. Remote Access Software. These are solutions like LogMeIn and GoToMyPC. These software solutions will give you direct access into your office desktop over the Internet, applications and all. Remote access software generally works quite well for smaller organizations, though we have seen some overall performance issues as staff counts climb. Note that the machine must be online in order for this solution to work; if your desktop at the office is shut down, you’re out of luck.
2. Virtual Private Network (VPN). At the next level, you have VPN connections. This solution essentially extends your network to a remote machine over a secure tunnel. You can access file shares and operate applications as long as those applications are installed on the machine that you’re using. Do be aware that as you work you’re downloading files over the Internet, so your speeds won’t be quite the same as if you were working from your office. Some hotels have also taken to blocking VPN access, so be sure to check into that if you plan on working on the go.
3. Terminal Server/Citrix. The most advanced remote access solution comes in the form of a terminal or Citrix server (the underlying technologies are the same, but a Citrix server has an extra software overlay for advanced management). Here, you’re basically building a giant computer that delivers your desktop experience over the Internet. Your applications will be installed on this server as opposed to locally, and you can access your full desktop over a secure connection. With this solution, you can use basically any device that has an Internet connection to tap into your workstation.
What’s the average price range for remote access?
As you can probably guess, your pricing is going to increase substantially as you move from the lower-level remote access software solutions to a full-blown terminal server.
For remote access software, your pricing model will typically be a “per user per month” scenario. On average, you should expect to pay around $5 per user per month.
VPN connections work a bit differently; rather than having a per user fee, you will often find VPN clients sold by number of concurrent connections that your organization will have. In other words, you could purchase a pack of 50 VPN clients, which means that any 50 of your staff members can make use of the VPN connection at one time.
These clients can either come as part of your firewall (which, keep in mind, must be robust in order to support this kind of remote access), or as a separate one-time investment down the road. Either way, for a 50-person organization your costs will likely hover around $10 - $15 per concurrent client (SonicWALL, for example, offers a bundle of 50 licenses for $595).
Lastly we have access by way of a terminal/Citrix server. There are two main ways that you can take advantage of this solution:
1. Renting space from a cloud provider. Your server(s) will reside at your provider’s datacenter, and you will pay a per user fee for the access. Wrapped into your charge will be fees for data storage, technical support, patching, monitoring, hardware upgrades, licensing, and any complex applications that require extra computing power. All told, expect to see a per user charge of around $100 to $200.
2. Maintaining your own server in-house. This means that you purchase the server, the software, and remote desktop service CALS for every user at your organization. For a 30-person organization, just the server hardware will run you close to $9,000. Then, the software and licensing will be an additional one-time investment of around $7,000. If you go the Citrix route, plan on an additional investment of around $15,000 for a 30-person organization, plus an annual support renewal at around $750.
All told, then, remote access can cost your organization anywhere from $5 to $200 per person depending upon which route you end up taking. This is a vast disparity, but when you’re talking about remote access, you’re really talking about a very wide range of technologies.
If you aren’t sure which solution is the best fit for your organization, don’t worry—there are plenty of resources out there who can help match your needs with the remote access that makes the most sense for you.
Remember: it might take some work and some money to land on the solution that’s right for you, but the efficiency and the mobility that you’ll gain as a result will be substantial.
And that makes it all pretty well worth it.