Remote Access to Shared Storage: VPN vs. Remote Desktop
There have been a lot of changes to production workflows since 2020. Creative teams had to adjust to working from home, and in many cases this was done by spinning up (sometimes hastily) remote desktop utilities or a VPN server with little time for due diligence on how it would affect the team’s workflow.
For teams that are used to working in close proximity with shared resources, fast and sweeping workflow changes can make collaborating more difficult and create a disconnect between teams. While remote technologies should bridge those gaps and make collaboration easier, many unfortunately missed the mark.
It’s not all bad though. Far from it. Remote connectivity solutions were lifesavers for studios that would otherwise have shut down entirely. And these technologies have improved rapidly to meet the needs of the exponentially larger work-from-home community.
If you haven’t explored remote workflow tools for your creative media team yet, or if you jumped in a bit early and are rethinking your remote workers’ workflow, here are some key details about remote video editing with VPN services like SNS Cloud VPN, remote desktop software, and mobile devices.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN, or virtual private network, can connect your team and collaborators to a device (or multiple devices) on the studio’s network from wherever they are, regardless of the server’s location. They can be online at home, hooked up to the airport WiFi, or working on a film set halfway around the globe. They simply log into the VPN from their off-site machine and they can access the media they need as if they were physically in the studio.
VPN technology has been around for many years, and it is a trusted tool in IT infrastructure planning. But when your creative team only needs access to their shared storage server, setting up a company-wide VPN can be a costly (and unnecessary) undertaking.
To facilitate multi-location access to an in-studio EVO shared storage server without requiring weeks of IT resources, we created SNS Cloud VPN, the cloud-hosted virtual private network solution exclusively for EVO. We built the SNS Cloud VPN service to provide clients with remote access to EVO, as well as to connect to each other despite their physical location.
A key feature of SNS Cloud VPN is that it only connects team members to the EVO video editing server. This enables additional workflow benefits—like file transfers directly to a local or remote workstation—without exposing the entirety of the company’s network to off-site users. Less exposure means less risk.
Aside from the added security benefits of not exposing the internal network infrastructure with SNS Cloud VPN, this also means that only information meant for the private network traverses the VPN. Users’ regular internet connections stay active whether they are off-site or local, which can dramatically reduce oversaturation of data that may happen over standard VPNs. This is especially helpful when it comes to interacting with large video files on the network.
Uploading and downloading high-resolution source media can be a bottleneck for remote editing. Using proxy files instead will minimize the required bandwidth for remote editorial, making it easier to get work done from anywhere. EVO shared storage servers include Nomad, a unique remote workflow utility that lets users easily retrieve auto-generated proxy files to their off-site workstations for a faster, more efficient remote editing workflow. Learn more about proxy editing with SNS Nomad.
This isn’t only a tool for remote video editors; it’s a critical component of an entire multi-site production workflow. Collaborators—whether they be producers, marketing managers, or CEOs—can easily access media for review over the VPN, even if their headquarters is thousands of miles from the edit bay.
Whether you are using a traditional VPN or SNS Cloud VPN, a virtual private network service is one of the most secure and easiest ways to connect your remote employees to the media and projects they need to do their best remote work.
Remote Desktop Control
When it comes to remote workflows, some environments are more stringent than others about keeping all of their media on-site. When it’s not possible for your users to retrieve files from an off-site location and take them on-the-go, it’s a great time to look into remotely controlling a local workstation.
Using a remote desktop software such as TeamViewer or ZCentral Remote Boost, an off-site user can control their edit station in the office, which gives them immediate access to their network shares and workflow tools, and is likely more powerful than the setup they have at home. Their remote desktop connection links them back to the workstation and workflow they are comfortable with.
Like VPN services, remote desktop technology is not a new phenomenon. Tech support has used remote control software for years—decades even. But it recently found a new use case as video editors on their remote PC and Mac workstations needed to connect to their edit suite in the office to gain full access to their media, projects, and editing tools.
Some multi-site editing teams opt to use remote desktop software as their sole remote editing technology. This is a good option for those who are unable to transport files outside of their highly secure facility, but it can hamper workflows that do allow employees to work with their media at home. For the latter, a joint VPN and remote desktop solution can be the perfect combination for a smooth and flexible remote video production workflow.
The VPN gives distanced collaborators access to their files and projects, so those with powerful at-home workstations can get work done with a simple VPN login. But, let’s face it—remote workstations are not always up to the task of replacing a full edit suite. Remote-controlling an editing workstation in the studio can help alleviate graphical limitations of the off-site workstation and other shortcomings of your team’s work-from-home infrastructure.
With a combination approach, collaborators with at-home workstations up for the task can connect to shared storage via VPN, while those with less powerful systems can connect to an individual workstation on-site over a remote desktop connection. Teams can also edit with proxy files downloaded over VPN on any remote workstation, then render locally via a remote desktop connection when a higher-powered machine is more essential.
Remote access is all about getting your projects to where you are, and nothing is with you more than your mobile device. Thankfully, VPN and remote desktop utilities aren’t solely limited to macOS and Windows. Android and iOS devices can connect to certain VPN services and can remotely control an on-prem workstation through mobile remote desktop applications.
SNS Cloud VPN allows cell phones and tablets to be authorized devices on the VPN, providing access to assets in the office or from another user on the VPN from any desktop or mobile device with internet connectivity.
You may be asking: Why would I want my mobile device to connect to my shared storage server? Remote video editing on a mobile device is not recommended, but accessing your shared storage server and/or your on-premise workstation through your iPhone or Android device can offer flexibility for smaller updates that don’t require a full workstation.
For example, if a user needs to verify the status of a file transfer, or wants to make a quick change on a workstation in the office, it can be frustrating to dig their laptop out of a bag and deal with startup time, login time, and connecting time. Using SNS Cloud VPN and a mobile remote client, a user could simply turn on the VPN connection from a mobile device in their pocket and log in.
EVO’s off-site capabilities are pivotal for workflows like distance education, news broadcasting, and much more.
What else could you do from your mobile device? Maybe you’ll review some video clips during a rain delay at a baseball game, or you could check if a file has been transferred yet. Or, as mobile devices continue their evolution into higher resolution cameras, maybe someday you’ll upload 8K footage directly from your phone to EVO shared storage over SNS Cloud VPN. The point is, mobile devices can be part of your remote workflow today, with lots of potential for more in the future.
There are many ways you can remotely access your on-premise shared storage server. A VPN connection like SNS Cloud VPN is a great option to keep your editors connected to their media and workflow tools without requiring both a remote and on-prem workstation. Remote desktop connections offer editors access to their on-prem workstation, which allows them access to shared storage as well as a more powerful machine than what they have at home.
And with a VPN solution combined with a remote desktop connection, there are virtually unlimited options for your creative team to collaborate from any device, anywhere in the world.