The VPN Is Dead, Long Live the SBC

by Andrew Prokop | Arrow Systems Integration

Source: No Jitter

A lot has changed since I left college and entered the workforce. My first "real" job began July 5, 1983 at the company formerly known as Northern Telecom. My first desk telephone was an analog 2500 set. I did most of my work on a green CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) screen logged into a PDP-11 via a 9600 baud modem. There were no cell phones, e-readers, Google, or Microsoft Word. Heck, in 1983 there was barely a Microsoft.

I don't want to sound too much like an old geezer reminiscing on a park bench, but I can't help but marvel at how different things are today. However, as much as the technology has changed, so has the way I do my job.

My job used to be a place I went to. If my car broke down, I didn't work. If the roads were too icy to drive on, I didn't work. If I had to stay home waiting for a repair person, I didn't work. I suppose I could have sat down with a pad of paper and wrote PLM code (my first professional programming language) by hand, but that wasn't very practical.

These days, work is something I do and not a place I go. I work at home. I work from airports and hotel rooms. I've worked at my kid's baseball games and swim meets. Today I am working from the cabin in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Remember when we used to take sick days? Now, I just prop myself up in bed and call it my office. No matter where I am, I have immediate access to email, instant messages, video, and enterprise telephony. The presence jellybean on my Microsoft Skype for Business client might tell you that I am available, but it doesn't let on that I am working in a coffee shop in downtown Minneapolis.

Of course, the only thing constant about change is change itself. It's true that I have moved from being an office worker to an everywhere worker, but even aspects of that are quite different from what they were just a short time ago.

The biggest change for me has to do with three words: Virtual Private Network. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is technology that creates a tunnel between a remote device and a corporate network. When I start the VPN on my PC, it's as if I am sitting in the office connected to the Ethernet jack underneath my desk. I see no difference in the way my applications run.

I clearly remember the days when I would go home, start my PC, fire up my VPN, and start working on the day's unfinished tasks. Now, I go home, tuck my PC bag under my desk, pull my iPhone out of my pocket, and get back to emails, IMs, and telephone calls without the use of a VPN. Yes, there are still times when I need a PC for its screen and keyboard, but even then I rarely start up my VPN.

So, what changed? How do I gain access to the tools I need without having to connect to the corporate network?


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