Best way to connect a remote office -- Frame, ATM, DSL-VPN ---Citrix, PC's????
Posted on 2006-06-20
I've been asked to help set-up (in my spare time...yeah right!) a growing small business that is adding a remote office. At the present time most of what they do is on shared Excel spreadsheets (turning more into applications every day, and I'm not real fond of shared spreadsheets). I'm trying to nudge them towards developing a database. So with this in mind the remote office will have ~12 PC's and will need access to the corporate database, Exchange server, and probably a few other shared files, maybe an intranet page in the future, which will probably lead to some web apps. I need a secure and reliable connection. The office I work in has a T-1 Frame Relay with a CIR of 1024Mbps and cost ~$2000/month. A hard sell when users have 8Mbps cable modems. I'm able to connect to our office from home over my cable modem and VPN, but the VPN can be connected for days at a time, or disconnect every 5 minutes, which wouldn't be acceptable. The local cable company sells "business class" broadband (probably the same thing just more expensive) but wondered if anyone had experience with that type of cable or DSL service and a VPN connection. I'm not a database person but wonder if there is a solution that would allow a local copy of the database that replicates changes with the main dataset?
Another problem would be connecting to the corporate Exchange server. Seems Outlook likes to hog bandwidth and a server at the remote office isn't really an option for 12 people.
I'm leaning toward a Citrix option and 256k frame. The bosses want to tightly integrate the offices and be lean and fast. Seems Citrix offers a lot less admin work, less chance of virus/spyware/adware, and no PC's to fix!
What advantages does Citrix offer over Windows Terminal Serices for an office of 12 or so? And I've seen Citrix desktop, published apps, inFuse...what would be the best option there?
Would you recommend a dedicated thin-client box over running the Citrix client on a PC? I've seen boxes for $500 that would seem to offer all a PC does, USB, sound, etc. No CD-ROM or floppy, which is great. I thought maybe one PC for the manager (play CD/DVD if needed for training, presentations, etc., store files related to just that office that could be remotely backed up at night).
Any thoughts, ideas, things I'm missing?? What are your experiences? Mine are that users don't like Citrix terminals, but then you get them a PC and they don't like the CRT, etc, etc.