ScreenConnect Shifts Remote Support From the Cloud Back to the Desktop

REVIEW: ScreenConnect from Elsinore offers a locally installed user support app that eliminates the perpetually billed subscription model of cloud-based products.

It is pretty hard to argue the benefits offered by remote control and user support packages. However, each has its own nuances and billing models that tend to obscure the return on investment equation.

The majority of remote control and remote support offerings tend to be cloud- and subscription-based, making it difficult to calculate the true cost. While that style of implementation has its advantages, such as no need for dedicated hardware and a very simple installation process, those subscription services exist for one primary function—giving network administrators the ability to remotely support an end user.

What's more, those very same individuals need the capability to conduct virtual meetings, training sessions and other Web-based activities that can span hundreds if not thousands of miles.

With that in mind, Elsinore Technologies asks some interesting questions: What if you could remove the cloud- and subscription-based models from the equation? What if one product could handle support, virtual meetings and collaboration events? What if these capabilities could extend beyond the local network?

In the quest to answer those questions, Elsinore came up with ScreenConnect, a locally installed service application that acts as the host and hub for virtual sessions between multiple users, regardless of their location.

The idea behind ScreenConnect is that users can get started with their own internally hosted service for just $325 for a single concurrent user license. There are no additional fees, subscriptions or contracts required. ScreenConnect also scales up to an unlimited license, which supports an unlimited number of concurrent users, for $4,000.

A Closer Look at Screen Connect

I tested the 30-day trial version of ScreenConnect, which offers all the features of the shipping version. Installation of the product is very easy and requires just downloading an installer and executing the installation. You will need a license code to install the product.

I used the 30-day trial license code, which was provided via email directly from Elsinore after I filled out a trial request form. If you choose to purchase the product, there is no need for a reinstall. Just input a new license code, and you are good to go.

There are multiple installation scenarios for ScreenConnect—basically, you need to install the server component on a system, which could be a Windows machine, a virtual machine, a cloud hosted server, a virtual appliance or even an enterprise server. The ScreenConnect server runs like a Web application and interfaces with a browser for access to the management console. The product works with all the major browsers and supports multiple OSes, including pretty much any flavor of Windows, Macintosh OS X, Linux, iOS and Android.

For testing, I installed ScreenConnect on a Windows Server2012 system and I chose to use Google Chrome as the primary browser for the ScreenConnect management application. Once installed, I also added a Chrome Plug In called ClickOnce, which is used to join sessions instantly, eliminating a few steps and speeding up connections.

The system running ScreenConnect acts as the central access point for facilitating connections and managing sessions. No additional software needed and no changes need to be made to firewalls or other infrastructure elements. Once it is running, everything that's needed to make a session happen is delivered from the ScreenConnect host.

For example, to start a support session with a remote user all I had to do was click on 'Create Session' and then choose how I wanted to deliver an invitation to the guest. The invitation can be delivered via email, published to a list hosted by the ScreenConnect server, or you can forward a link to the remote guest, which the user can access through a browser.