Monday, 11 January 2010

Snow Go SharePoint

Unlike many other countries a few inches of snow in the UK means that everything grinds to a stop. This week was one of those weeks when thousands of schools closed, many roads became impassable and worse of all the Villa’s Carling Cup Semi Final was cancelled. But things have changed lately and it was interesting to see how many Facebook status updates told us the person was working from home (I don’t know when Facebook became part of working from home) . Now with the rapid improvement of Broadband technology around the world it has made ‘working from home’ a real option. No longer is it just a term for watching Jeremy Kyle with your pc on in the background bleeping when a new message arrives in your Inbox. Now with so many companies moving to SharePoint all your Office files really can be at your finger tips and reduce the need to dig the car out of the snow.

Now companies have three ways of letting users access their SharePoint environments from home.

1. Firstly, and still one of the most popular is a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This allows the user to connect into the Corporate network and work as if they were sitting inside the network. If your company has already setup a VPN Server then connecting to it is very simple. This youtube video shows you what to do, as long as you know the IP address or DNS Host Name, How to Set up VPN. If you r company hasn’t got a VPN setup this can be done fairly easy using Windows Server 2003 especially if you have a spare network connection.

2. It is also possible to expose your SharePoint as an Extranet where users can access their SharePoint sites via a URL address and are then required to add their network logon details. This usually uses port 80 and Forms Authentication can be used to allow you to change the default Windows logon screen. The default Windows logon screen can be confusing with users not being sure where they should enter the domain name. With Forms Authentication it allows an extra screen to be designed that takes the user logon details and passes them to Windows. The following article describes setting up a SharePoint Extranet and Forms Authentication – Click Here.

3. The final option is to consider using a Hosted SharePoint solution either WSS or MOSS. Office Talk will happily advise you on suitable suppliers of these. One of the advantages of hosted solution is that it is easy for anybody with a logon to connect to wherever they have an Internet connection. But perhaps the greatest advantage is the cost savings. You don’t need expensive hardware, backup solutions and 24 hour IT support as this is all done for you.

With all of these three options the snow and non-gritted roads become less of a problem. Employees can stay in their homes, by the nice warm fire drinking hot tomato soup while accessing all their normal office files.
Of course this all assumes that you have SharePoint so if you haven’t you might need to put your wellies and a spade in the boot of your car ready for when your car gets stuck.

Now, how can we make sure the Villa finally play this week? Perhaps one day all games will be played indoors and broadcast via the Internet. I hope that never really happens. Let’s get back to playing in the snow with an orange ball.

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