Working remotely? You need RPC over HTTP

Way back in August 2007, we wrote a technical bulletin about ‘RPC over HTTP’, a convenient way of connecting to your Microsoft Outlook when away from the office.

Fast-forward by nearly two and a half years, and we thought it would be worth taking another look at this great little utility, with its mouthful of an acronym for a name.

So why cover old ground?

Well quite simply, First Line MD Barrie Giles had RPC over HTTP set up on his laptop a couple of months ago, and he hasn’t stopped going on about it since.

Ned Wells went to find out more…

NW: “so Barrie, what is it about RPC over HTTP that makes your life so much easier?”

BG: “as a Director of a small business, I like to keep in touch constantly with what’s going on, whether I’m in the office, at home or on holiday.”

“Push email on my mobile phone, running Microsoft Windows Mobile, provides one way of doing this. And it works well when all that’s needed is a quick reply. But I don’t find it convenient to read and reply to long emails using my mobile phone, particularly when I’m dealing with complex commercial issues.

NW: “OK, so what about Outlook Web Access? That lets you use your email, calendar, contacts and so forth, through a web browser. And it looks pretty much like Outlook on your desktop”.

BG: “Yes, but to use Outlook Web Access, you have to go online, go to a web address, and then login with your username and password. You then do your task, send an email or whatever, and then log back out again. It’s just not as easy as using Outlook on my desktop and next time you want to send an email, you have to go through the process all over again.”

“You’re right when you say it looks quite like your Outlook, but it doesn’t look exactly the same and it’s different depending on the browser you’re using. Not does it behave in the same way. So you have to spend time looking for stuff and it’s just not as convenient or easy to use.“

“The other thing that can be annoying about Outlook Web Access is that you can’t use it unless you have a live web connection. And if you are online but you’ve got a flaky internet connection, you can wait ages for pages to load, and typing happens really slowly. It’s just frustrating.”

“With RPC over HTTP, everything is exactly as if you were sitting in the office – you just use your Outlook. There’s no extra logging in or out, and you don’t have to be connected to the internet – except to send and receive emails, of course. And when you are online emails just appear in your inbox in the same way as they do when you’re in the office. You can use your calendar, contacts and everything else in the normal way. It’s great!”

NW: “OK, I’m sold. Any other benefits we should know about?”

BG: “Indeed. You can set up RPC over HTTP on your laptop, your home computer or wherever. What’s more you can have it set up on as many computers as you like because all it’s doing is synchronising with your single work account on your Exchange server.”

“For me, it makes such a difference when I’m working from home. Everything just looks and works the way it does in the office. I can walk past the screen and if there’s an email, I can do something about it. With Outlook Web Access I’d have to deliberately login to check my emails, and then deliberately log out. RPC over HTTP is secure, safe and easy to use. And you can have your personal emails coming into Outlook but in a separate inbox. This means you can easily send from either your work or personal email address. ”

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