Remote workers disconnected from the corporate LAN can pose a big threat to your network. Traditional systems management software can only actively manage assets that are inside your corporate firewall. You're probably looking for a product that extends management beyond the corporate LAN and actively manages remote devices through the Internet—without the need for costly VPN connections. LANDesk has a product you need to look at.

"Our customers are really interested in doing more with less," said Nathan McLain, LANDesk's product manager for the LANDesk Management Gateway Appliance. "People are worried about management functions, security, policy enforcement and so on. The challenge that has brought the Management Gateway solution is a growing, geographically distributed workforce. Mobile users are proliferating, and as one of our beta testers said, 'I'm not only responsible for my local division; I'm now responsible for another 25 divisions, along with all those servers, desktops, and mobile devices, distributed throughout different geographies!"

The LANDesk Management Gateway Appliance solves the problem of remotely managing geographically distributed sites any time, anywhere. "In the traditional sense of remote, secure connections," McLain said, "you typically think of a VPN, which punches a hole in the firewall and lets anybody with a username and password access the corporate network. That might be OK for salespeople who will get to a VPN to be managed, but in the real world, mobile and distributed systems aren't that connected to the network. Most users don't use the VPN regularly and thus aren't manageable that way."

With the LANDesk Management Gateway Appliance, a laptop with the LANDesk Management agent can call home and obtain a brokered, secure communication over SSL. Through that gateway, the remote system can download software distributions, pull down policies, and even allow the administrator to remotely control the device. In other words, the appliance permits the kind of functionality that you have on the local network from anywhere in the world. "The IT administrator uses LANDesk software for inventory, software distribution (updates, application), remote control (very important for support), and security (policy enforcement)," said McLain. "The LANDesk Management Gateway Appliance lets you do that anywhere."

The solution's plug-and-play (PnP) capability lets you instantly deploy, set up, and manage desktops and laptops outside the firewall in order to immediately inventory and bring corporate assets into compliance.

The LANDesk Management Gateway Appliance costs $3,000. For further information, contact LANDesk at the company's Web site.