enKoo Makes Remote Access Easy

By Patricia Fusco | Posted March 29, 2004

Secure remote access is an important form of business communication, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses seeking to be more productive. However, setting up a virtual private network — a system that allows employees working outside of the office to gain access to internal businesses information and applications — is often too costly or too technical for small businesses to deploy and maintain.

Some small businesses have opted to work around the cumbersome technicalities involved with setting up a secure remote access system by tapping into Web-based solutions, like those offered by GoToMyPC. Other small businesses have turned to remote control software solutions, such as Symantec's PCAnywhere, to connect and maintain computers located outside of the office.

Essentially, small businesses have two choices in remote access solutions — deploy an expensive, admin-intensive, enterprise-class VPN (define) solution, or use a consumer-oriented software product. Until today, that is. Now small- to medium-sized businesses can use a single remote access solution that combines the simplicity of consumer products with the robust security of an enterprise solution.

Derived from the Japanese word "enkaku," which means "remote land," enKoo is the company behind a new type of secure remote access solution. And the system is designed specifically for today's business needs — especially for mid-market businesses with 500 or fewer employees or even small businesses with fewer than 100 people. As long as small businesses need to bring staff members operating in different locations together, enKoo has a simplified secure remote access offering to fit most needs.

Located in Freemont, Calif., enKoo has been quietly developing an appliance that uses a single application to provide transparent access to files, e-mail and applications, via a Web browser. The enKoo family of secure remote access network appliances is clientless, which means that there is no PC-side software to install or maintain to setup remote access. As long as employees have access to PCs with Web browsers, they can access their work from anywhere.

Found in 2002 and lead by Ajit Deora, an IT industry veteran, enKoo has put together an all-star team of tenured IT advisors, including Teher Elgamal, "father" of SSL (define) VPN standards and Rajeev Motwani, Stanford professor and technical advisor for Google. Deora, enKoo's chief executive officer, explained where the talented group of IT experts spent most of their time in developing the remote access appliance.

"We started development from ground up, specifically to meet the needs of smaller businesses. Much of our development time over the past two years was spent making the device simple to setup, use and maintain. It takes time to make things simple," Deora said. "Once the device has been connected to an Ethernet jack and connected to the network, the appliance detects all the different network elements and prepares itself for an admin to setup remote access. All an admin has to do is install the box and add users."

Simple to setup perhaps, beta testers have reported that it takes less than 15 minutes to install and deploy the enKoo device. However, the programming used to keep the system secure is anything but simple. Deora explained.

"We use multiple layers of encryption and authentication to keep the device secure," Deora said. "We use secure-128 bit SSL encryption, multi-layer authentication, granular permission controls down to the file level, and password protection systems to make sure only those that are authorized have access."

While these different layers of security can make administration of other remote access systems a complete nightmare, nothing could be further from the case for enKoo. After installing the device on a network, the entire system is controlled by just five little on-screen buttons used manage the entire remote access system.

"The network appliance takes enterprise-class features on the administration and authentication side of the system, and brings it down to a level SMBs can use," Deora said. "Permissions can be for a single user or groups of users, with granular access control set at the computer, folder or file level. And the system logs all activities, so the admin can see who, when and what was accessed by a remote user."

All users see when they sign on to the enKoo remote access system, is a login screen for entering their user name and password. Once the user is authenticated, the individual is taken directly to office applications, e-mail, files and folders, stored on the small business network. Remote access was never this easy.

enKoo insists its network appliances are the only Web-based secure remote access solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses. As a result, the solution is designed to be easy to install, and even easier to use. In a matter of minutes, users can securely access their applications, files or e-mail remotely through a Web browser, from anywhere.

Remote access systems are typically painful to setup and generally speaking, a little pricey to deploy and support. But enKoo's remote access appliances start for less than $1,000. Two units are available; a stand-alone device that lists for $995 and can connect up to 10 remote users, and a 1U rack system that lists for $2,995 and can connect up to 25 remote users. Deora said a small business that buys a 10-user system should see a return on its investment in a couple of months.

Mid-sized businesses that already have remote access systems in place should be pleased to know that enKoo's appliances do not conflict with other solutions. Deora said the company does have customers using other VPN systems that have successfully deployed the enKoo device with no ill results.

Small businesses that are investigating ways to provide remote access to employees in different locations now have another option — enKoo remote access appliances. Just don't expect to see one of these devices sitting on the shelf at Office Depot anytime soon. EnKoo remote access appliances are only available in the U.S. through value-added resellers. Check with your local IT shop to see if they can supply you with a product demonstration.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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