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When COVID-19 turned the world on its head this year, companies finally had the excuse they needed to try the remote working experiment. With a myriad of tools such as Slack, Zoom, Asana, Trello, Quip, G-Suite, and Office365, firms have plenty of options to find the platform that works best for both their company and their employees. These tools, as with any remote platform, come with three main challenges: security, data transmission, and reliability. There have already been instances of security breaches in university dissertation defenses, and cloud-based file storage and sharing options are at the mercy of the user’s internet quality.
The goal of technology is to provide functionality without penalizing efficiency. Security and reliability issues work against the benefits the tools provide, while the speed of data transmission limits productivity. Just as the employees must deliver without direct oversight, this unique period is testing the company’s technology to determine how it handles a remote environment. This post reviews technologies behind remote platforms that assure security, increase data transmission rates, and improve system reliability so users can work as effectively offsite as they do in the office.
Remote workers need to connect a home PC or company-provided laptop to the corporate network. Many companies already had a robust VPN solution before COVID-19; much fewer had an embedded mechanism to troubleshoot IT issues remotely. DIGI International provides a suite of remote connectivity solutions to address this problem and manage the security risk of the users’ home Wi-Fi. DIGI’s cellular extenders, such as the 6310-DX, offer an efficient, secure connection with the Connect® IT console and provides the IT staff the opportunity to troubleshoot technical problems immediately from their remote locations. The most comprehensive solution is the DIGI Remote Manager®, which allows IT personnel to both monitor and configure devices remotely. The Remote Manager also joins multiple devices to the corporate network and encrypts the data for added security.
Figure 1: DIGI Remote Manager enables IT personnel to both monitor and configure devices remotely. (Source: Mouser Electronics)
After security and reliability, data transmission is the next factor that limits the effectiveness of remote work. The faster the user can send and receive data, the faster he or she can act on it. An innovative solution to improve data transmission is Texas Instruments’ Bluetooth 5. With multiple modes to adapt to the user’s application, Bluetooth® 5 can double the throughput of prior-generation devices, include diagnostics, and reduce current (energy) or battery consumption through faster over-the-air download times. And because Bluetooth 5 has a long-range mode, it improves the quality and reliability of the signal.
Another technology-enabling remote work is data deduplication, the most effective form of data compression. An ideal compression tool reduces the size of the data with minimal loss while affording the user access at the reduced size. A deduplication tool reduces data to its smallest practical size and enables rapid transmission. Deduplication identifies and erases redundant data in a large set, liberating valuable storage space on servers and reducing the size of transmitted files. This process increases system bandwidth, and data transmission speed in turn.
In addition to the home Wi-Fi network introducing security risks, it might also be unreliable or subject to demand surges with many additional users consuming bandwidth. The DIGI Remote Manager®, described above, also supports data transfer in the event of a home Wi-Fi outage. This benefit maintains security throughout data communication.
Texas Instruments’ Bluetooth 5 also improves reliability through the long-range function. Because the signal covers a higher portion of the working environment, the reduced number of retransmissions reduces interruptions to the signal. This factor is especially useful when transferring large data files, as unplanned interruptions could block the file from transmitting.
Remote work is having its moment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are rapidly adapting to the suddenly new business climate. Leaders need to ensure their employees have the tools they need to maintain a high-quality work output without sacrificing the security of their data and workers. Using tools that improve the security, data transmission rate, and reliability of systems put companies and employees in a position to succeed. The ideal state is for the tools to deliver secure, fast, reliable results without the inefficiency of technical glitches. Management will finally be able to see how the company’s systems perform in a fully remote environment, and how effectively work gets done when no one is watching.
Adam Kimmel has nearly 20 years as a practicing engineer, R&D manager, and engineering content writer. He creates white papers, website copy, case studies, and blog posts in vertical markets including automotive, industrial/manufacturing, technology, and electronics. Adam has degrees in chemical and mechanical engineering and is the founder and principal at ASK Consulting Solutions, LLC, an engineering and technology content writing firm.
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