Ericom AccessNow is remote desktop protocol (RDP) client solution. It's on-premise only. This is a bold move considering so many RDP and virtual desktop solutions are now in the cloud. It's also a zero-client software solution - no Flash, no Silverlight, no ActiveX, and nothing proprietary or one-off to make onboarding corporate or employee-owned devices a hassle.
AccessNow as a remote desktop
Ericom AccessNow is device agnostic, so you can run it on Android or iOS devices. I was able to test it out in a demo environment and found the performance to be suitable. It includes the following technical features:
- Intel x86 and ARM support
- Application Programming Interface (API) for managing file transfers
- File transfer support between remote host and mobile devices
- Remote/local printing support between the remote host and mobile devices
- URL redirection which optionally opens web links in the local browser
- Native Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) data transfer
- HTML 5 canvas for displaying a remote PC desktop (uses web socket and HTML 5)
- Finger gesture support for touch devices
The AccessNow user interface can be localized depending on the browser's location. It can display English, Japanese, Chinese and other language. There is also support for multiple keyboard locales. Figure A shows an example of a remote desktop open on an iPad Air:
While checking out the demo environment, I found the performance to be robust and comparable to other RDP and virtual desktop solutions I've checked out in the past. However, your mileage may vary, and I highly recommend if you want to consider Ericom AccessNow as a solution is to pilot it in-house using your own IT people and infrastructure.
I even found the version of Microsoft Office to work adequately for editing and reviewing documents and other work that may not require extensive Office templates. Figure B shows an example of Word 2010 open on a remote desktop:
AccessNow and the enterprise
Ericom AccessNow is built on HTML 5 enabling you to integrate it with leading enterprise and custom portals.
For whatever reason, I don't see enough RDP/virtual desktop providers seizing upon business continuity requirements, so I was glad to see it in AccessNow's talking points. So much attention in the mobile world goes to BYOD and mobile first strategies, when a mobile device might be the first option for most workers in a business continuity scenario (so says the writer who has lost power more than once this summer).
AccessNow can extend the reach of certain virtualization solutions to HTML 5 browsers including:
- VMware View
- Citrix XenApp (some versions)
- Dell (Quest) vWorkspace
- Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect
- Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop (RD) Connection Broker
AccessNow and security
The AccessNow remote desktop client is compatible with IPSec and SSL VPNs. While I didn't have the infrastructure available to setup AccessNow with a VPN, I remind you that Access Now is an on-premise solution, so you need to have the information security expertise in-house to setup.
Ericom AccessNow includes the Ericom Secure Gateway, an SSL gateway, free of charge. It supports single port access and acts as an SSL VPN for Ericom clients and a WebSockets Gateway.
AccessNow and BYOD
Ericom makes Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) one of their talking points for AccessNow. Their zero-client approach is indeed appealing since it'll reduce device onboarding time.
However, enterprises dipping their toes into the shallow end of the BYOD pool need to consider if they have the IT staff to support Ericom AccessNow and a VPN for their users.
Pricing and "added costs"
There is no published pricing for Ericom AccessNow. You have to request a quote from Ericom. Unpublished per-seat pricing has a decidedly startup feel to it. My advice is to factor in the "added costs" that aren't going to be part of Ericom's quote including:
- Hardware costs
- Setup and provisioning time
- Management time (think applying security patches and other routine maintenance)
While the setup seems easy enough, remember we aren't talking a turnkey solution.
My usual advice is to stick with cloud-based RDP and virtual desktop solutions especially for organizations that have an already overstretched IT department and want to make a move into BYOD, or even a mobile first strategy. This being said, Ericom AccessNow being an on-premise solution is both a selling point for some and reason for others to pass by this solution. Organizations wanting more control over the RDP their mobile users access should take notice of this solution. However, organizations seeking to lower the management and maintenance footprint for remote desktops are going to want to stick with a cloud-based RDP solution.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.