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  1.    #1  
    With work our IT dept is very stingy and we are always fighting for mobile access to emails, let alone exchange. Many of our 58 or so DMs travel quite a bit (like me covering OR, WA, ID, WY), while other's Districts back east are so tight that the DM can drive 3 hours in either direction and be at the end of his District.

    I have been assigned to lead a small focus group to gather options and solid data for the Director and VP to present to IT to show that we need access at the very least to email, if not exchange while in the field.

    One of the steps we need to do is survey the DMs. We can always send out an email and manually compile the info ourselves. I know there are web based survey caption options that cost..........but do you know of any survey capture services that are free.

    Our survey will consit of questions along the lines of:
    • How many days a month do you travel overnight?
    • How many planes flights do you both a month for work?
    • Do you have a cell phone / pda that supports email? If so what is the make and model?
    • Do you have a cell phone / pda that supports MS Exchanger server access? If so what is the make and model (this will usually be a PPC or Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, or Blackberry based phone)?
    • How far (in drive time) is it to you furtherest rep in each direction?


    Due to ITs firm resistance to give ANY access to the network beyond our laptop VPN, we are originally prosposing to only give DMs that truly need access whatever option they go with, ie a DM that covers 5 states and travels a lot. Here are some of the basic options we will be presenting to IT to accomplish this.
    • Simply set up a redirect to a personal email address. No tech support because I trouble downloading my email, I have to call my own ISP. Since corp pays for DMs cable internet access there should be low demand for updating email addresses beyond normal DM turn over. IT resists this because they do not control the email server they would be forwarding it to.
    • EVDO data card for the laptop. Not as convienvent, but we would also have full access to all corp websites to get stats as well. It costs for the card and monthly service fees.
    • Additional VPN accounts so our Desktop can forward on emails while we are in the field with our laptops by our sides. This will cost extra in licensing fees.
    • Mobile access directly to Exchange serve 2003. No additional cost for IT, no forwarding to an outside non corp controled server, no additional service fees to client. Gives added advantage of access to tasks, contacts, and calendar in addition to email.


    Summary of my two questions:

    1) Do you know of a free web based survey capture service?

    2) Any other options you can think of to present to IT to give us email access in the field?

    There are some brilliant minds here.....any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. #2  
    www.coolsurveys.com offers a free survey tool. A friend of mine used it and said he liked it, but I do not have first hand experience with it. I think he said he could do it via email or a website which is pretty cool..

    Enabling OWA is a fairly obvious choice.

    What are you using for VPN? Some VPN vendors have some great email access features...

    Obviously Blackberries are another way to go, though they aren't cheap, and with their current legal issues, I'd stay away for a while anyway.

    The redirect is a bit scary from a security perspective...I would never forward my corporate mail to any form of public mail server. I doubt your IT department will either. How would this help you anyway? Your DMs would still need to access the internet, in which case, couldn't they use VPN?

    Personally, i would gather the survey data first, then based on that you can formulate your strategy for identifying and "selling" your remote access solution(s) to your IT folks.

    I do this kind of thing for a living, so feel free to PM me if you want to discuss some specifics without posting too much in this public forum.

    -Joe
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    - Albert Einstein
  3.    #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    www.coolsurveys.com offers a free survey tool. A friend of mine used it and said he liked it, but I do not have first hand experience with it. I think he said he could do it via email or a website which is pretty cool..
    Thanks I will check it out. I also just found another one at express.perseus.com that so far seems very comprehensive and easy interface for creating and managing an online survey.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    Enabling OWA is a fairly obvious choice.
    Yes we have it, but it is not able to be accessed by all cell phones / PDAs that could access an email account or support exchange access.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    What are you using for VPN? Some VPN vendors have some great email access features...
    We are using Nortel Networks and apparently they charge a license fee for each VPN account. You can only access the VPN account from one computer at a time. So they do not want to issue a laptop and a desktop VPN account as it would double the license fees.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    Obviously Blackberries are another way to go, though they aren't cheap, and with their current legal issues, I'd stay away for a while anyway.
    Ya the upper management team has them issued, and they looked into it for the DMS...but it has been currently shelved for many of the same reasons you mentioned above.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    The redirect is a bit scary from a security perspective...I would never forward my corporate mail to any form of public mail server. I doubt your IT department will either. How would this help you anyway?
    I understand this, but wanted to present all options....so basically they can come down the same conclusion that we really want...access directly to exchange via a PDA / Cell phone.

    This would help as one of the IT guys set me up to forward my email to a dedicated comcast POP account I set up. My PPC-6600 would then access my POP account to download emails. When I replied I set my email client with my corp email address as the return address to make it look like I was sending it via my corp account. It worked great for 8 months until they pulled the plug 2 months ago.

    Basically we are looking for email access while in the field, preferrably via an email / exchange capable cell phone or PDA that the DM personally bought or owns.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    Your DMs would still need to access the internet, in which case, couldn't they use VPN?
    It would have to be VPN through a mobile device with various OS platforms as the devices would be at the DMs expence. See above for other VPN issues concerning licensing costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    Personally, i would gather the survey data first, then based on that you can formulate your strategy for identifying and "selling" your remote access solution(s) to your IT folks.
    That's our plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraOrdinaryJo
    I do this kind of thing for a living, so feel free to PM me if you want to discuss some specifics without posting too much in this public forum.

    -Joe
    Thank you, Joe.. ..I just might take you up on that with specific questions a we move along with this!
  4. #4  
    Shouldn't it be the IT Department's job to look for a secure solution to provide remote access to employees? It's weird that it's the non-techies who are suggesting technical solutions in your company. If they are too paranoid and inflexible about security, they might as well shutdown the servers to make sure that no one can break in to it.

    My suggestion is to SSL encrypt POP, SMTP, or IMAP protocol access. To make this even more secure, maybe suggest installing a VPN client to all your handhelds and connecting to your office via a secure VPN tunnel and then accessing your email via secure pop/smtp/imap. There are VPN clients for both Palm and PPC.
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by muttdaemon
    Shouldn't it be the IT Department's job to look for a secure solution to provide remote access to employees? It's weird that it's the non-techies who are suggesting technical solutions in your company. If they are too paranoid and inflexible about security, they might as well shutdown the servers to make sure that no one can break in to it.
    You would think so wouldn't you? But after 2 1/2 years of trying to get mobile access, we are going to have our senior upper management present as many options as possible to them and say, "We need mobile phone access for our DM team while not in the office. This is how many DMs have a valid need of this. We don't care how you do it. Here are X options that our team has come up with. Use one of them or come up with your own, as long as they have access via cell phone / pda while in the field".

    I think it is a combination of this is my little baby syndrone, not wanting to manage the extra access, and security concerns....with maybe a little ego thrown in just to help the situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by muttdaemon
    My suggestion is to SSL encrypt POP, SMTP, or IMAP protocol access. To make this even more secure, maybe suggest installing a VPN client to all your handhelds and connecting to your office via a secure VPN tunnel and then accessing your email via secure pop/smtp/imap. There are VPN clients for both Palm and PPC.
    Thanks, I know there are tons, but do know of a good 3rd Party VPN client they could use without individual account license fees that you would personally suggest that supports WM, Palm, and BB?
  6. naivete's Avatar
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    #6  
    Our office uses Citrix over VPN(ip-sec) to provide email access to our employees.

    Entrust and SecureRemote are installed for each desktop/laptop that needs to access sensitive information. Each employee is given a smartcard for access and handheld use is prohibited for accessing sensitive data.
  7. #7  
    Nortel charges per client? Since when? My company uses nortel and the clients are included for free. We are licensed for CONCURRENT useage on each server, not for total number of users. Maybe it's the authentication mechanism that is limited. For example, if you use digital certificates for authentication, you may be charged per cert, and may not have the ability to install a given cert on more than one machine.

    Anothe VPN solution we use is the Juniper SSL appliance (formerly neoteris). It rocks. It has the ability to proxy IMAP through SSL, which would be a good solution for you as well, however it is email only. The SSL_VPN portion enables full access to virtually any resource, all through a web browser. Very cool stuff.

    If there is no standard among the mobile devices it is much harder to create a universal solution. IMAP-SSL is probably the closest choice there. Would your DMs be willing to purchase a "standard" handheld in order to utilize a remote access solution? That should probably be one of your survey questions.

    BTW, unfortunately it is not too uncommon for the non-techies to have to make these suggestions, for many of the reasons given. An additional reason is cost, however. IT departments are continually being asked to provide more while spending less. Having the demand come from the business side is sometimes the only way they CAN help the business. Odd but true, in my experience.
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    - Albert Einstein
  8.    #8  
    Great feedback Jo, I will check those VPN options out.

    Since our corp or our client will be unwilling to reimburse for a mobile device at this time, I would be unable to request that the DMs buy a specific unit out of their pocket. Hence, an wrench in the works to consider.
  9. #9  
    If your organization is running Exchange 2003 then there is simply NOT going to be any cheaper way to do this than via Windows Mobile 5. With the Cingular 8125 about to launch for $350 or so, it would still be the cheapest, EVEN if your company supplies the handsets!

    That would give you instantaneous "direct" push email to and from Exchange (none of that forwarding/POPing, etc) with a bunch of other features. The M$ sales pitch sounds like it was written specifically for your situation.

    What your survey SHOULD include is an analysis of whether or not a WM5 PocketPC Phone device can REPLACE the DMs' laptops. Heck even if you only applied it to the "travelling" DMs, replacing their laptops with a stay-at-home desktop and a WM5 phone for the road would pay for itself!

    Sure you might need IT to redesign a few of the corp. websites to better fit the mobile browsers, but hey, it's strategic! (not to mention, inevitable)...
    Last edited by delta_baggage; 12/08/2005 at 02:20 PM. Reason: SpLn (spelling)
  10.    #10  
    They just installed Exchange 2003 this last week.....which is what spured this whole debate into action again. The WM05 is certainly an option we added to our list.

    I will crunch some numbers to see about the cost ratio with supplying WM05 devices vs other solutions.

    Of course, realistic or not, the ideal situation would be to allow for current devices in the DMs hands access without any extra fees with minimizing IT work load. But here's to dreaming!
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by HobbesIsReal
    They just installed Exchange 2003 this last week.....which is what spured this whole debate into action again. The WM05 is certainly an option we added to our list.

    I will crunch some numbers to see about the cost ratio with supplying WM05 devices vs other solutions.

    Of course, realistic or not, the ideal situation would be to allow for current devices in the DMs hands access without any extra fees with minimizing IT work load. But here's to dreaming!
    It's really hard to offer more options without knowing what their current devices are. Are they even all smartphones? Or are some using simply nokias or LGs? Do they all have data service?
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    - Albert Einstein
  12.    #12  
    In our proposal so far, this will only be offered to those who have full WM03, WM05, Palm, or BB devices. I am currently not looking at anything lower than that, including smartphones. That is one of the questions in our survey though so we can determine exactly what cell phones and PDAs they all actually have.

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