Running GoldMine Over a WAN

Now and then customers will ask if GoldMine can be run across WAN (Wide Area Network) links either directly or via VPN (Virtual Private Network).  The thought is to allow remote users to run GoldMine as if they were operating on the local network in the office.  While far better options are available, such as Microsoft Terminal Services, there are those that will still want to attempt running across WAN links to avoid the costs associated with a solution such as Terminal Services.  Like many things that can be done, there are a number of things that should not be done.  The key issue with this method is one of performance.

The GoldMine system requirements specify that the network connection speed be a minimum of 100 Mbps.  With the exception of high end WAN links (read that VERY expensive), you will never see anything near 100Mbps on a WAN link.  VPN further reduces the speed.  While some Internet Service Providers are advertising speeds as high as and beyond 100Mbps, these speeds are typically theoretical speeds under ideal conditions and your chances of seeing a true 100Mbps on low-cost Internet connections are about the same as obtaining the MPG rating printed on the window sticker of that Corvette you’ve been drooling over.  There is no such thing as ideal conditions except in a controlled environment and it is usually a given that most networks are not controlled environments.  The fact is, many things will affect the actual speed of your connection and if you are seeing a true 100Mbps on a low-cost Internet connection, chances are you have been abducted and are finding other strange things happening around you.

The other issue associated with WAN links is latency.  Latency is a measure of time delay.  The time it takes a signal to move from point A to point B will affect the performance of any application you are attempting to run across any connection.   You can’t cheaply fix latency and in some cases you can’t fix it at all.  It is always going to take longer for a signal to travel from say New York to San Francisco than it is going to take for a signal to travel from New York to Philadelphia.  While there have been devices introduced that can minimize latency through caching methods, they seldom work well when timing is critical in an application.

The bottom line is that the only reliable method for giving remote users and offices the ability to run a networked GoldMine installation is through the use of applications such as Terminal Services or some other remote desktop application.