The SSL VPN market has just exploded, with over £230m already invested in the sector. Infonetics Research, for example, predicts that SSL VPNs will become a £350m ($607m) market opportunity by 2006 - for a combined annual growth rate of 105 percent.
The mix of having the right technology - SSL VPNS - at the right time - now - to suit a business need - remote access - has proved a perfect one. Add in legislation guaranteeing workers more "place-of-work" flexibility, and the availability of broadband connections, and the mix has become a heady cocktail that the market wants and needs.
Remote-working is sweeping the working world, a by-product of the need for workers en route between appointments to catch up on email via a Wi-Fi connection in the nearest Café Latte. Or spend quality time with their families, avoiding the pointless daily commute usually spent in a traffic jam, or stuck on a stationary train. Or access their mail and documents easily and securely when working abroad.
It's a move that satisfies everyone: the employer, the employee, and even the environment. After all, taking a few million people off creaking, overburdened transport systems is surely no bad thing either. And the numbers backing up remote working are spectacular:
- By 2010, nearly 27 million Europeans will become new remote workers, or "e-Workers", according to the EU's Emergence Project
- The UK will have the largest number. By 2005, in the UK, homeworkers will top 8 million. In 2001, there were 2.2m.
- Worker productivity can increase by up to 40% through remote-working
- A person working 1 or 2 days a week at home can save a company £3500- £7,000 a year through lower turnover, reduced office space, and improved productivity
- Savings on lunches, wear and tear on a car, and clothing can amount to £600 a year savings for employees, as well as reduced stress and an increased sense of freedom.
- And in these days when more flexible working and improved technology means higher expectations, your more flexible staff, working remotely, mean companies can now offer 24 x 7 customer services. Your enquiry can just as easily be replied to by someone working from home.
- Change in the tools available for work, primarily VPN technology
- Change in lifestyle, because people only work to live, not live to work
- Change in attitudes - by employers, employees, and governments
Companies benefit by having a secure "data tunnel" through which their encrypted communications are sent. They offer a window on the files and applications you would use in the office. You can use your Web browser to open the files you would normally be able to access, amend and print documents, check your email and diary, and update databases. From a company's viewpoint, the SSL technology also enables it to ensure that no one gets to files or programs they shouldn't. In fact, the technology is so versatile that companies can even use it as a secure gateway to authenticate all of their employees - including office workers - before they gain access to applications and data.