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The Escape VPN and Remote Working

Note: This article is NOT intended as a tutorial, separate information including a video will have been sent to students with that information. Please contact your studio assistant or support if you cannot find this.

Overview

VPN: Stands for Virtual Private Network. In normal circumstances, the network inside Escape is kept separate from the wider internet. You can access the internet from within Escape, but you can't access Escape from the internet since it is separated by a firewall for security reasons.

By connecting to our VPN you open a "tunnel" that goes from your computer and through our firewall to connect to to the Escape network.

Once connected, you can either make use of VPN Licences or use the Remote Workstation facility.

 

VPN Licences

With this functionality, you install an application such as Mari, Zbrush or Houdini on your computer and then configure it to connect to our licence servers.

The way this works for most of our applications is that we have "floating" licences. Escape is assigned a number of 'seats' of a particular application, which means what while we can install the application on all of our 300+ workstations, only that amount of people can open it at the same time. When one of those people closes the application, our licence server reclaims the seat and it's immediately available for someone else to use.

As a part of our response to the COVID-19 situation, we checked with the application developers and with their permission opened up some of the licence servers to the VPN. This means that when connected, the application can reach though the VPN tunnel, talk to our licence servers and reserve one of the pool of "seats", which are shared with those onsite. The application then runs in Educational mode on your own computer until you close it or disconnect from the VPN. The licence still belongs to us, but is temporarily borrowed by your computer. Those who are in a scheduled class always have priority for use of licences.

Instructions for each application are different, we will send those directly to you as required.

The advantage of this method is that a very small amount of data is sent, so it will work even with slow/patchy internet connectivity.

A disadvantage is that some applications/systems will not be available and you do not have access to the Escape network storage.

 

Remote Workstation

This feature requires the VPN, but instead of reaching through the tunnel simply to acquire a licence token, you connect through it to an onsite Escape workstation and control that as if you were sitting at it.

This means you have access to the Escape file servers, and all applications that are installed on our workstations, because you are literally logged into that workstation. Your keyboard and mouse/wacom tablet commands are sent through the VPN tunnel to the Escape workstation, and the view of what would be displayed on the screen is sent to your computer as streaming video like Netflix or Youtube.

This is achieved by installing a small appliation on your computer called HP ZCentral Remote Boost. We will supply the installer and instructions directly to students.

Advantages are that you get the full Escape workstation experience without having to install or maintain any applications yourself. Also your own computer does not need to be of a high specification since you are not running the applications locally.

A disadvantage is that you need a decent internet connection to have a good experience. Though in general, as long as you can stream 1080P (HD) videos off Youtube, Netflix or Prime Video without excessive buffering, you should be fine with this too since it's essentially the same thing.

 

Please enjoy this highly professional diagram:

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Setup Process

Students and staff will be provided with instructions and links to download the required files. We support Windows 10 and recent versions of Mac OS. If anyone is running Linux at home we don't have specific instructions, but should be able to get you connected too so get in touch on the support address.

Essentially the process is as follows:

  1. Run installer which copies the VPN configuration to your computer or configure it manually
  2. Connect to the VPN with your Escape Studios workstation login (this is not your Portal login)
  3. Either configure the application you want to use to connect to our licence servers, or install and run the HP ZCentral Remote Boost application to connect to a Remote Workstation

 

Troubleshooting

There are a fair few issues that can arise in a setup as complex as this. You may be able to use the information provided to resolve the issue yourself, ask your studio assistant, or you can raise a ticket to the support email address and we will assist (which may include directing you to undertake one of the steps mentioned).

 

Go here for help with connecting to the VPN:

VPN Connection Troubleshooting

 

Go here for help connecting to an Escape workstation AFTER you have connected successfully to the VPN:

Remote Workstation Troubleshooting

 

If you have successfully connected to the VPN for the first time, your application is unable to acquire a licence despite following the instructions, see the following for a possible resolution:

VPN Connected, unable to access Escape Resources

 

Asking for help from the technical team

Do not send technical support requests regarding the VPN to Student Services or Student Experience, they will not be able to help you with these issues other than forwarding them to us

When submitting a help request to the technical team, please include a full screenshot and as much of the following information as possible:

  • Are you trying to use a VPN Licence or a Remote Workstation?
  • Are you using a Windows, Mac or Linux OS and which version of it?
  • Has it ever worked for you before on this computer?
  • If it has worked before, when was the most recent time?
  • A description of the steps that led to this point
  • Any extra information you think would be useful

 

 

 

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