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Extending the Network Beyond The Office

March 2020 by Richard Lee

Last week I talked about how the network could be extended. This week I shall discuss what options are there to extend the network or access the network from beyond the office.

Here are some options to extend the office network: ⦁ public cloud such as Dropbox, Google, Amazon, Azure etc ⦁ private cloud using a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device ⦁ leased line ⦁ VPN (virtual private network) ⦁ remote control software

⦁ dial up

Public cloud are data repositories where you can buy space for data from cloud providers. Through the internet, companies can store their data on the cloud. Its main advantage is that : ⦁ it decreases the need for companies to invest and maintain their own network

equipment and infrastructure ⦁ it is scalable to meet the needs of a growing organisation ⦁ one pays for whats needed so there's likely to be less waste

Some drawbacks are: ⦁ the service is provided by a third party and there can be issues with accessibility

if for instance the subscription is not renewed ⦁ since internet is required to access public cloud then the requirement for internet access is a potential weakness of public cloud ⦁ data access may be slower than local network access and this can impact performance when large to very large files are being manipulated ⦁ there are concerns about security as the cloud is made public * * * * * * * * I n t e r n e t * ---------------------------[NBN/ADSL Router] * * * * * * | | ( Switch ) | | \____[PC2] { Cloud Provider } | ====== |--------------[PC1] ======

Diagram showing how a network (on the right) accesses Public Cloud Private Cloud (NAS) Network Attached Storage option is a low cost highly effective way of accessing (and sharing) corporate files whether its thru local network or from outside the office network.

Basically its implementation is one or more hard drives in a CPU controlled box that can be accessed thru a web browser. Also possible to access files using Drive Mapping for the local network. If you have high capacity files such as pictures and video streams NAS has a data throughput speed advantage compared to using Public Cloud. Also you can still continue to access corporate data within the office even if your internet service is down. There's very little maintenance needed (unlike a Windows Server where there's continual ongoing required) and is secure, scalable and a great file access solution for many SMEs. * * * * * * * * I n t e r n e t * ---------------------------[NBN/ADSL Router] * * * * * * | ( Switch ) / \____[PC2] [ NAS ] -----------/ ====== | |-----------[PC1] Local Network ====== Diagram showing a typical Private Cloud NAS Installation Leased line offers businesses many advantages. It has high symmetric speeds meaning better connectivity and faster uploads/downloads. They tend to be very reliable. They range in speed from 10Mbps, 100MBps, 1Gbps then onto 10Gbps.

Disadvantages of leased line include they take some time to set up and install. They also tend to be costlier than alternative options.

Leased lines are typically used to connect branch offices to head offices or branch to branch offices. So they would not have the same flexibility as Cloud solutions if there was a need to do business to business type connections. VPN (virtual private network) is usually built into a network device such as a router. In a nutshell it allows an encrypted tunnel for you to send/receive data using a public network such as the internet. Data sent over the internet is encrypted on the sender's side and when its received by the receiver the data is decrypted. Any data that may be

intercepted would be useless to the attacker without the key to decrypt the data. This

ensures that data is kept secure during transmission.

VPN is a good alternative (once configured and working) to a leased line as it should cost a lot less in terms of the ongoing charges. Because there is encryption involved this requires processing overheads. So data transfer speeds are slower (compared to a leased line) as a result. VPN can be used to connect an individual computer to the office or connect a branch office to head office.

VPN looks like this:

* * * * * * * * * * I n t e r n e t *------------------------------------------------| * * * * * * * * | | { Encrypted Data Tunnel } | | { Encrypted Data Tunnel } |-----------[NBN/VPN Router] | Office Network | | ( Switch ) [NBN/VPN Router] / | \ | [PCA] [PCB] [PCC] [ PC ] ====== ====== ====== ====== external worker PC

Diagram showing an external worker accessing corporate network using VPN via internet Remote control software would typically involve third party software. Windows has built in software called Remote Desktop. This is software thats best used when you access the network from another part of the network. If you're outside your office network its better to use other options or you may need to do Port Forwarding on your router. Some examples of Remote Software are Teamviewer, Dial Up is one of the oldest options available. Most business implementations would no longer use a dial up option. Although that is still possible. But only for simple use such as ftp, tftp on relatively small data files.

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