Telecommuting is a work arrangement that allows an enterprise employee to work from a location other than the company premises on a regular or temporary basis. The employee may travel, work from home, or work from a leased office. The telecommuting application provides a secure means for the employee to reach the company IP network and to access all the network resources and IP services in the same way they would be accessed in the office. Mail servers, file servers, Web servers, databases, and print servers are common examples of network resources; e-mail, the World Wide Web, FTP file transfer, and telnet (that is, virtual terminal) are common IP applications that access these resources. The telecommuter’s computer connects to the enterprise network as an IP host and is treated as though it is located on the enterprise premises (and is connected to the company network by a dedicated link).

As noted before, the telecommuting service is typically provided by way of the dial-up access through the PSTN.

To support telecommuting, an enterprise may set up dedicated remote access servers and operate, manage, and administer them like other customer premises equipment. Alternatively, it can rely on remote access outsourcing to ISPs or the PSTN employing access servers. The motivation for outsourcing is to allow the enterprise to avoid the capital cost of the servers and to avoid having to retain a dedicated staff to maintain the equipment. The enterprise may also share the servers with other companies to further cut costs. Whatever the actual arrangement for supporting telecommuting, security is by far the most important corporate requirement. A telecommuter must be authenticated before he or she is authorized to have access to the network.

Accounting is another essential application. In this case, accounting actually refers to the collection of resource consumption data. This information is useful for capacity and trend analysis, cost allocation, auditing, and billing.

Telecommuting is further complicated by the increasing mobility of telecommuters and their geographic impermanence. A global enterprise typically has its employees calling in from different parts of the world at any given time of the day. If they all dial in to a remote access server in the same country, the expenses can quickly mount to cosmic proportions. If, on the other hand, they dial in to local access servers, dedicated connections of these servers with the local company can be prohibitively expensive, too. Finally, the requirement to provide telecommuters with the same services as employees working in the enterprise office brings up both security and traffic policing issues (addressed by the VPN service).

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