Often, users will want to access their work computers from home, when traveling, and even when at market. Merchant Plus!, like any PC based application can be accessed from anywhere in the world using a standard browser with Internet access. In fact, the entire operating environment of any PC can be accessed from anywhere Internet access is available. However, it has to be configured to work properly in advance. Basically, two options are available:
Microsoft’s Remote Desktop. Included with Microsoft operating systems, including server licenses, is a utility called “Remote Desktop Connection” and also referred to as “Terminal Services” (especially on servers). This allows for a remote user to connect to any computer using a utility that is included for free with the Operating system. When connecting to a personal computer only one remote connection is available at a time, and logging it remotely will log off any user logged on to the physical computer. When running on a Windows Server, the remote connections do not interfere with the operations of the server. A free license is available for the server, but the user must have administrative access. Additional users and more security is available when connecting with a server for a small licensing fee. If remote usage is heavy, especially if multiple remote locations are connected, a dedicated “Terminal Server” is suggested so the application server running Merchant Plus! isn’t bogged down.
It is free as part of the Microsoft operating system and instructions are available from Microsoft Support.
Files can be easily transferred between the remote and local computers but printing to a remote printer requires drivers that support RDP and the configuration is a bit more challenging. When adding any other local device, contact Smyth Retail Sales for configuration options.
Remote connectivity is a common task for network administrators and a moderately tech-savvy user can configure basic connectivity using Microsoft’s support website to learn how to use remote desktop. Opening the firewall/router to allow the traffic, and connecting to different computers on the network will require some technical support.
Third Party Applications. Alternatively, third party applications are available for the Mac or just for an easier installation experience without as much “technical” involvement. Products like LogMeIn Pro offer an easy self-install process with phone support. There are software costs involved and remote printing may not require a special printer. While technical expertise isn’t as critical, there are subscription fees or Application fees for these services.
Proper PCI security procedures require the use of a multi-factor authentication for anyone remotely accessing the cardholder data environment. Unless offering remote support for the stores, most retailers will log into back office computers and not Point of Sale.
While remote access is usually a locally sourced technical issue, Smyth Retail Technical Services is also available if needed.