Written by Clive Swanepoel
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Jobs exist today that were unknown just a few years ago. Brought about by the widespread acceptance of the Internet as a communications medium, millions of employees now work out of their homes. Equipped with personal computers that can connect to their corporate networks, this new breed of information worker is able to function just as effectively as their fellow workers who are physically located at the corporate office.

A key piece of equipment that enables this freedom is the RAS, or remote access server. It is a dedicated server connected to the LAN for the specific purpose of authenticating and controlling access to the LAN by external or remote users. Working from a remote location such as a hotel room or from their own home, a worker connects to the RAS via a dial-up or ISDN telephone connection.

Security and Reporting

In addition to ensuring that the LAN is only accessed by authorized remote users, the RAS performs another important administration function: it keeps records of all access activity. It maintains comprehensive logs that record access times and duration as well as failed connections. Often the RAS is also configured to be a firewall to keep out viruses and other undesirables.

Remote workers need quick, reliable and easy access to their corporate networks if they are to function efficiently. A successful RAS installation will have a sufficient number of ports to handle the anticipated traffic and will often be configured to accept both analog and digital signals. Network managers also use RAS devices known as console servers to manage remote networks.

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