Secure, Remote Access to Biz Apps and Data

By Lauren Simonds | Posted August 19, 2008

Providing a mobile workforce with secure access to company data and applications can be a tricky and expensive proposition. That reality often leaves companies with tight budgets and little or no IT staff sitting on the sidelines. But WorldExtend, a remote data and application software company, believes its IronDoor 3.5 is the key to providing small businesses with remote access that's both secure and affordable.

IronDoor is a software-based platform built on the Microsoft .Net framework. It's designed to let an unlimited number of authorized people use a Web browser to access network applications and data files stored on a central server (in a company's main office, for example) from anywhere in the world. 

Steve Landau, CEO of WorldExtend, considers other remote access products such as GoToMyPC and LogMeIn as more consumer-based. "Once mobile workers take their notebooks out of the office there's no desktop PC to access," he said. "IronDoor let's you access your network and all your business."

IronDoor installs on your server, and Landau said it provides secure access because there are no open firewall ports. "We use a patented, zero-port technology so that no one can sniff out the data," he said. "It keeps people from accessing your network because there are no inbound ports open in the firewall. We also encrypt the data."

The platform supports FTP, TELNET, VPN, remote desktop and application publishing services, which lets companies publish Windows applications (such as Office, ACT, QuickBooks) stored on their server. Employees, suppliers, branch offices or even customers can access those applications from any Windows PC or any VNC-capable computer ‑ such as Linux or Mac ‑ via a secure, single sign-on over a Web browser.

“While most organizations recognize the productivity benefits associated with secure, remote access of their mission-critical data and applications, many organizations lack the technical expertise, infrastructure, or budget to implement such a solution,” Landau said in a statement.

He added that IronDoor relieves companies from having to make a capital expense because they do not need to buy, deploy and maintain the dedicated hardware a system like this requires. Another benefit, he said, is that IronDoor "significantly reduces administrative costs and dramatically simplifies the process of delivering this capability."

IronDoor 3.5 includes one agent (the software you download onto your company server) per network, and the subscription rate is $24.95 per person per month. If you have a second network and want a second IronDoor agent, it costs an additional $49.99 per month.

The company offers both a 48-hour test drive and a 15-day free trial. Click here for more information.

For Physical Therapist, Gain Without Pain is No Stretch

Back in 1999 Alvin Feldman, owner of Hamilton Physical Therapy in Hamilton, New Jersey, was searching for a way to schedule his patients at his company's three different locations. At the time he was using Excel and an appointment-scheduling database called PTOS (Physical Therapy Office System).

With three offices, the issue wasn't getting any smaller. "We had central billing but no communication with the other offices. I couldn't get a real-time solution going," he said. What Feldman found was the original version of IronDoor – and he's been using it happily ever since.

Today, Feldman's business has grown to five locations and approximately 62,000 patient visits per year. He has IronDoor set up on the server in his main office and he runs the following applications on the network: PTOS, MS Word, Excel, Appointment Pro and Access.

"Anyone at any of the five offices can schedule appointments at any time," he said. "We use Word templates to generate forms for the insurance companies. Data from patient visits gets entered into PTOS, where people in our billing office can access it."

Feldman said that the biggest advantage is that he no longer has to wait – and pay ‑ for IT to come out if any problems arise. "If I run into problems with PTOS or Appointment Pro or have Internet issues, WorldExtend troubleshoots all the problems," he said. "The only issue they can't resolve is if the Internet connection goes down, and if that happens, I call Verizon."

Another weight off Feldman's shoulders: data backup. "We used to backup to tape and rotate them out of the office," he said. "Now we just backup to WorldExtend and know that if the place burns to the ground, we have a copy offsite."

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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