For some jobs, taking a laptop home and connecting it to the internet is pretty much all that's required. But for others, access to specific systems is important.
ManageEngine, the IT management division of Zoho, has more than 8000 employees in 10 countries. It was able to make an early decision to ask them to work from home by eating its own dogfood.
ManageEngine's tools such as Access Manager Plus and Remote Access Plus allow seamless yet secure connections to desktops, servers, databases, and network devices from employees' homes.
Remote Access Plus does what its name suggests – it provides remote access to systems. This could be useful where someone's job requires the use of specialised software, especially applications such as CAD which have particularly demanding hardware requirements. Another use is to provide technical support to employees working at home on company-managed computers.
Remote Access Plus requires the installation of a lightweight agent on the system to be controlled, which can be running Windows, Linux or macOS. At the remote end, any modern browser that supports HTML5 can be used.
Access Manager Plus addresses the problem of remotely managing infrastructure such as servers and databases. Privileged sessions for maintenance and troubleshooting are typically restricted to the data centre, ManageEngine vice president Rajesh Ganesan observed.
Installed in the data centre, Access Manager Plus provides secure channels so such tasks can be carried out remotely. Unlike VPNs, it provides granular access controls, restricting users to the operations, files and folders their job requires. It can also prevent files being copied to the remote system, and to enforce session time limits. All activities are logged for analysis, and the software can be connected to SIEM tools.
As with Remote Access Plus, all an Access Manager Plus user needs is a browser.
Fully-functional versions of both these tools are available free of charge until 1 July, and Ganesan told iTWire that the offer may be extended if the situation hasn't improved by then.
"Remote access is extremely critical" to business continuity, but it must be done securely, he said.
Within a week of the offer commencing, and before any real attempt to publicise it had been made, some 600 companies were already taking advantage of the temporarily free software.