by February 1, 2009 0 comments

The concept of working from home is very much there in other countries, but
hasn’t really been an appealing proposition for Indian enterprises till now.
There are many reasons for this, both technical and HR related.

Technically, there would be connectivity issues when employees need to access
the enterprise netowrk from home. Their home connectivity would vary by type,
bandwidth, service provider, etc. At the enterprise end, the organization would
have to provide access into the network, for which a VPN would need to be in
place, security would need to be strenghtened, and bandwidth would have to be
optimized to ensure low-latency and high performance connects.

Moreover, the costs of the same would have to be kept low, considering that
there’s a slowdown, and we’re exploring this possibility to save costs and not
increase them.

On the HR side, performance metrics would have to be defined to ensure that
the employees deliver even if they’re not coming to the office. The IT
department can’t do much about HR issues, but can certainly keep the IT
infrastrucutre ready. Given the current ecnomic slowdown, it might be a good
idea as it would lead to cost saving and even help the environment by reducing
employee travel.

We tested this concept by deploying a WAN accelerator between our homes and
the office. We setup a VPN server in the office and tried to see the
effectiveness of the whole setup.

How we deployed
We setup a VPN server on Fedora 10, using OpenVPN (both of which are free), and
placed it behind a WAN accelerator (which is paid of course). You can find out
how to deploy OpenVPN and VPN on Windows Server 2008 elsewhere in the cover
story. We then connected the WAN accelerator to a switch and also connected a
mobile controller, which takes care of licenses of mobile users to the same
switch. After that, we connected the WAN accelerator and mobile device to a WAN
emulator whose bandwidth was set at 512 Kb/s. This emulated the speed of a user
sitting at home and connecting to the VPN server over a 512Kb/s bandwidth. We
then installed a software provided by the WAN accelerator mobile controller on
the client machine. The client software automatically connected to the WAN
accelerator and established an optimized link. The WAN accelerator helped reduce
bandwidth usage from 512 Kb/s to just 128 Kb/s. With the help of OpenVPN client
we connected to the VPN server, deployed within the organization.

Setup of users connecting to the
corporate network from home. We used Network Nightmare for simulating the
WAN conditions.

The Benefits
The same setup could be done without the WAN accelerator and the enterprise
would save some costs. However, the user would require higher bandwidth to
connect, which would be a cause for not using the enterprise network. With the
WAN accelerator in between, lesser bandwidth is required. So, users could go for
lower Internet connection plans at home and spend less. Or even the organization
could bear the cost of this connectivity, and would have to pay for a lower
bandwidth plan.

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