As we enter our third week of comparing the different needs of your office employees vs. your remote workforce, serious consideration must be given to the connectivity and security of your company-issued mobile devices.  In order to maintain the high-level of productivity from your employees, mobile workforce security and connectivity must be as durable as the devices we wrote about in week one of our four-part series.

Not to say employee connectivity and security within the four walls is a simple implementation, but different considerations must be taken when your employees are mobile. Dropped connections not only reduces your workers’ productivity, but increases IT support calls.  Virtual Private Network (VPN) security in the traditional office has the luxury of higher speeds and constant connections, while the mobile worker environment has slower speeds and less reliable connections.

Not All VPNs Are Created Alike:

As NetMotion, one of Pearl Solutions Group’s lead provider of mobile VPN, states:

Conceptually, a VPN is simply a way for two computers or networks to exchange data under the following terms:

  • Each computer must be able to verify the identity of the other.
  • The data that is exchanged must be kept confidential and unchanged in transit.
  • The exchange must be reliable – computers exchanging data must detect when sent data is not received so that it can be sent again.

Mobile VPNs must also take the following into account:

  • Mobile workers often move from the office to a customer site, changing their IP addresses and even the networks used to connect to the Internet. If the VPN doesn’t accommodate these changes, a user must re-establish the connection each time the IP address changes.
  • Mobile workers often need to suspend or hibernate their devices to preserve battery life. The mobile VPN should automatically resume without user intervention, otherwise applications that require the VPN to function are likely to fail. Users will lose data and must manually restart both the tunnel and any applications that use it.
  • Mobile workers use cellular data networks characterized by lower throughput, higher packet loss, and higher latency when compared to wired networks. The applications they use are typically written for stable, high speed, wired networks. Mobile VPNs must shelter those applications from the reality of mobile network performance or the application itself will become unstable, leading to data and/or productivity loss.

Basically, the VPN that Pearl Solutions Group provides its customers was created to bridge the gap between what users expect from a wired network and the realities of mobile computing.  For more detailed information on this VPN solution, CLICK HERE.

After mobile workforce security, connectivity is the next most important issue needed to be addressed by both the IT and Fleet directors of your company.  When your remote employees’ computers or tablets lose their wireless connections, or it’s degraded to the point it can’t send data, the employees’ (and whoever he supports) efficiency decreases.  Depending on the situation, there are several resolutions:

Hardware Connectivity Solutions

For the fleet deployed in areas with poor cellular coverage or extreme terrain, it is recommended to install an external antenna.  Having your vehicle’s modem (whether internal to the computer or via an external modem such as a Sierra Wireless or Cradlepoint modem) connected to an external antenna will increase your reception.  Poor signals are caused by distance from the cell tower or interference.  You can’t change the outside interference (i.e. trees, hills, mountains, tall buildings, etc.), but you can affect the inside interference found within the vehicle (i.e. glass, metal, etc.).  By utilizing an external antenna installed on the roof of the vehicle (either permanently mounted or with a temporary mag-mount), you will see significant reception gain.  These antennas—from various manufacturers such as AntennaPlus, MobileMark and Larsen– can be installed professionally by your fleet installers, or PSG, and will cover all wireless technologies (2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, and WiFi).

In addition to an external antenna—or in the absence of one—a Signal Booster can be added into your vehicle architecture that will amplify the weak cellular signal multiple times and then rebroadcast it to the area needed, such as the inside of your car.  These can increase 3G and 4G signals and are approved for most cellular operators in the U.S. These boosters are installed within the vehicle and can utilize either an internal or external antenna.  There is a one-time charge for the cost of the hardware, and no monthly fee.  Contact Pearl Solutions Group to get more information on the best solution for your needs.

Software Connectivity Solutions

In addition to hardware that can be installed to improve connectivity, there is software that can be installed on your Mobile Data Terminal that will allow your employees to continue to work on their current applications even during periods of no network connectivity.  As part of the NetMotion VPN software package offered by Pearl Solutions Group, Mobility Mobile will maintain a user’s ability to input data into an application even if the connectivity is lost.  As soon as connectivity is re-established, Mobility will resume transmitting data at the exact point the application was interrupted, even days later. Other solutions lose complete application sessions, causing data loss and corruptions, and force the user to log on again and re-input information.  With the Mobility Mobile solution, productivity is not lost during interruption, and your employees will not become frustrated by re-starting the computer, logging in and re-entering data.  Even better, this software can run on Windows, iOS and Android and various hardware platforms.

Remember, the challenges facing your IT and Fleet teams are unique compared to your employees’ in your stationary office.  With the right deployment and solutions, your Mobile Workforce security and connectivity can be seamless, which in turn, promises greater efficiency and cost savings for your company.

Next week we will finalize our four-part series with a blog about the importance of mobile device management…

Learn more about Pearl Solutions Group’s Mobile Workforce solutions!