Is It Remotely Possible?

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jeff Smelley - Also by this author

High speed Internet access has made many things available today that were not previously possible. You can get connected and share information around the world with ease. This ability to connect brings valuable remote services to your desktop, but not all methods are equal. Do you know the difference between Web based applications, application service providers and wide area networks and remote access software? I will briefly define each of these methods this month and provide more insight to each, including how they can best be used in the next several articles.
Web site applications can be subdivided into two categories, Web sites and Web applications. Web sites are the most common and are used every day by all of us. You browse for information that is available to anyone with a computer. You may shop for and buy goods or sell cars via Web sites. This type of connection is generally limited to retrieving information, submitting a request for information and/or executing a single transaction. Web applications differ in that your utilization is normally much more regular, specific to a particular service and you maintain information of a private nature (to you or your customers). An example of a Web application would be online finance approval where you submit credit applications and track the approval process. In this example, you rely on using the Web application daily and both your dealership and your customer information resides on the Web site. The Web application is most often used to allow a vendor to provide their service to consumers for the purpose of increasing their business volume (increased loan volumes). Your information stored in the web application is redundant to that stored in your Dealership Management System.

An Application Service Provider (ASP) is generally offering a program that is exclusively for your dealership’s benefit. The program provided, such as a Dealership Management System (DMS), is offered on a contractual basis via the Internet. An ASP provided DMS is providing a primary, secure, dedicated resource by which you process all or most of your private information on a remote computer. This service allows the DMS vendor to provide additional valuable services such as data backups, server maintenance, software upgrades and more while limiting your investment in expensive hardware. ASP’s can provide a higher degree of privacy and security than Web applications while providing extended functionality to your dealership.

A wide area network is an extension of the tradition local area network. You house a network server on your premises and via the Internet or dedicated communications lines integrate remote locations (often with multiple computers) into a virtual PRIVATE network. This virtual private network is designed, implemented and maintained to provide distant access for your business units (stores) and to appear as though everyone is in the same facility. Like your local area network, you can exert more control but you accept more responsibility for maintaining the equipment, back-ups and more.

Remote control software is a marvelous tool that has been in widespread use for some time. Remote control software allows you to access your desktop computer from a remote site as though you were sitting at your desk. If you just want to get online to your office from home or while traveling and you have a self contained in-house DMS, then remote control software is your choice. This software is inexpensive and easy to install but it does have limitations.

While these descriptions, of remote computing methods, probably sound a bit vague and a little confusing, I look forward to providing more detail and better clarity as I discuss each method individually.

Vol 3, Issue 1

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