Our standard method of establishing communications between a remote site and our servers has been to use a VPN-enabled modem. This has fitted in well with our goal of taking the “network into the field” (Having our network extended to remote sites has huge advantages in problem-solving and fault-finding).
Recently, we have found that our IPSEC VPN and the new generation of sim-cards from both major telecoms companies in New Zealand do not marry well (this has apparently also affected a number of Auckland’s taxi drivers, who use in-vehicle EFTPOS systems!). We also found the IPSEC VPN would fall over from time-to-time and sometimes take some time to re-establish.
Without going into any details, suffice to say we now have a much better solution in place, far more secure than before, and we can get away with a much cheaper modem. This also means we have lowered the expertise level required to do a remote installation, again all part of our goal of “commoditizing” remote communications.
We recently retrofitted a site on the West Coast of the South Island with the new comms system. Our engineer had a maximum of 4 hours on-site because of travel constraints (flights / driving to the airport). The monitoring system is quite complex and includes a repeater station. The mission was accomplished with time to spare, showing just how robust a solution this is!