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Did you know that by 2014 employee-owned smartphones and tablets used for business will more than double to nearly 350 million (Juniper Research)? A mobile workforce can be a boon for employers in many regards—think productivity. If employees can access the network anywhere, anytime, on the device of their choosing, limitations of the traditional nine-to-five workday no longer exist. Not to mention the potential to work more efficiently, while cutting down on monetary and environmental costs.

But the thought of hundreds of thousands of devices accessing the enterprise network can be enough to keep IT managers and CEOs up at night—and with good reason. Between faulty hardware, hackers, and the occasional human error (lost phones, for example), enterprise mobility can expose an organization to security and compliance risks.

As BYOD shows no signs of slowing down, how can your organization equip itself to be on the cusp of this shift in the way business is done, while minimizing the potential threats?

Here are five tips for embracing BYOD, while also making sure your company isn’t vulnerable to any security risks:

1. Complete a full security audit – Have the IT department evaluate the corporate network for vulnerabilities that come with opening up the network to dozens (even thousands) of new devices, and update the security infrastructure accordingly.

2. Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM) – MDM can go a long way toward providing management and security for mobile devices. Companies should require that all employees enroll their devices that access the network in a corporate MDM system. By doing so, devices can be automatically configured for access to corporate email and resources. In addition, any necessary restrictions and policies can be applied using MDM, such as ensuring that devices require an unlock code to be accessed.

3. Use solutions that integrate with Active Directory, or a similar tool – For many regulated industries, tracking which devices are accessing the network is critical. With Active Directory integration, you can ensure a level of monitoring that meets the strictest of compliancy regulations—for example, knowing the details of exactly which devices are accessing the corporate network at all times.

4. Provide simple solutions to allow employees to access corporate content in a secure manner – File access needs to be managed and secured—and Mobile File Management solutions can help with this—but file access also needs to be easy for employees to use. There are many unsafe consumer grade file-sharing alternatives that employees can resort to if the solution provided by the enterprise isn’t user-friendly. An ideal solution is one that has the simplicity and ease-of-use provided by consumer grade solutions with enterprise grade security.

5. Role-based access to data – By employing solutions that integrate with Active Directory, or similar tools, enterprises can easily provide the right level of access. You can allow employees to have the same access and permissions as they do from their desktops and laptops, or have much tighter restrictions on mobile access. The right tool will give you the flexibility to choose.

6. Being prepared for the worst to happen – It’s inevitable that, at some point, employees will lose or break their devices. Make sure you have a plan in place so they know how to report it and get the device wiped and removed from accessing the network.

By embracing mobility with a solid plan in place, your organization can not only minimize the threat of security risks, but, more importantly, maximize the benefits of the mobile enterprise.

Today’ post on activEcho 2.5 comes from the activEcho Product Manager, Marcelo Andrieu. Thanks, Marcelo! – Anders

Today we are releasing activEcho 2.5. This is an exciting release as we have been working with many customers over the past few months to nail down their evolving requirements for file sharing and syncing. Many of these conversations are with our customers in healthcare, financial services, pharma, education, publishing, advertising, government, and legal. This is a fast-moving market and although customers were very happy with our 2.1 release, they always come up with new requirements! They learn and we learn together. So in line with this non-stop evolution and constant re-iteration of the product, this is what we’ve been doing to address their needs with 2.5:

• IT needs better storage management and control. In activEcho 2.5 we are adding storage quotas. For Active Directory users and ad-hoc users, IT can set policies and users can view quota status, receive alerts and purge unneeded content when demanded. This helps IT to keep storage demand under control as well as on budget.

• Users wanted more sharing and syncing options. So, we added “download only” and “read only” folder settings. Very useful for one-way document sharing and distribution, typical in many organizations. In addition, users wanted control on what to sync, so in 2.5 we also added the ability to define what folders are synced to Mac and PC desktops or just stay on the server for access via mobile devices or using a web browser.

• Compliance, security and content control. Organizations have been asking for the ability to take ownership or re-assign ownership of content when circumstances demand it. For instance, when an employee leaves the organization it seems reasonable to be able to make somebody else responsible for his/her content, projects and such. So we added a new administrative “change content ownership” feature to give IT that ability.

• Scalability and performance for large structures. We enhanced our Active Directory support, login compatibility and other parts of the product to ensure we perform at light speed even when dealing with tens of thousands of users in the system.

• And several other functions like more management options for mobile devices, tighter integration with mobilEcho and refinements to existing features.

We’re sure our customers will enjoy these new set of features. But we and our customers have short memories, so since 2.5 is out, we are already working on the next one. You can expect to see us rolling out new exciting features soon.

Another post from Marcelo Andrieu, Product Manager for ActivEcho. This one covers some of the discussions he is having with our customers – Anders

Every quarter we spend a whole day working out what will come in the next 2 or 3 releases of our products. With our recent introduction of activEcho in March, I am busier than ever talking to our customers to see what they are doing, what’s important and what’s not. They manage to get me down to Earth pretty quickly. It’s never boring. We talk mostly about features, use cases, security, performance, storage, deployment, trends. All very interesting things.

One theme that came up consistently in this round of discussions can be paraphrased like this: “so, if you had to rank what makes your IT life difficult, what would that be?” And the answers came back like this:

• Unexpected service disruptions
• Security policy changes
• User account management for applications and services.
• Client software updates

The one that really captured my curiosity was #3, user account management. Here’s what I see in the organizations I talk to:

The companies I talk to have a wide range of users; anywhere from 500 to 10,000 users. Some of those people work in teams, sometimes they interact with customers, vendors, partners and other outside constituents. They need to exchange document – big and small. Many try to send those documents using email. That can cause problems for IT. Storage, size restrictions and security are obvious issues. Then they try to provide other means: SharePoint, FTP servers, DropBox and others. But here’s the problem. More often than not, somebody has to take care of creating accounts, logins, assign storage, for internal and external users. Then, somebody has to “remember” to delete or disable those accounts that are not needed anymore. Simply put, you need a consistent, repeatable user deployment and management capability.

“How bad is it?” I would ask. The answer comes back something like this: “well, we’ll receive a request, it would take us a day or 2 to provision an account, then we try to keep track when that account is supposed to expire. There are other housekeeping task like protecting and deleting legacy documents, resetting passwords. In general somebody will spend about 2 hours a week taking care of all this.”
Waiting for “a day or 2 to provision the account” sounds pretty bad to me considering the crazy speed business is conducted at in the 21st century.

Think about it this way:

2 hours/week = 8 hours/month = 96 hours/ year. Hmmm… that’s more than 2 full weeks worth of work. I am sure companies could use that time for more strategic projects given a skilled IT person’s time and cost.

activEcho can help address this. activEcho can automate account provisioning and management by using Active Directory (AD) for internal users. For external users, activEcho provides policies and automation so users don’t need to request accounts every single time. IT sets and maintains the policies. Everything else just happens. That’s good for IT and makes life simple for happy and productive users.

This week’s post is from Marcelo Andrieu, who is the Product Manager for our new activEcho Enterprise File Sharing solution. Marcelo, thanks for the post! – Anders

For some reason in the software business people think about dot releases as if they are not that relevant. After all, what’s in it? they say. Maybe some minor improvements and bug fixes?

Well, that is certainly not true anymore. Several years ago we embraced the Agile development process. This means we are releasing versions all the time and we have a great deal of flexibility. We can rapidly change the scope and features of release to respond to what our customers need. Instead of 1 release every 12-18 months, we may have 4 to 6 in the same period within a year.

This brings us to activEcho 2.1, which we are releasing today. We have had numerous conversations with our customers from many diverse markets including healthcare, financial services, education, publishing, advertising, government, and legal. In addition we talked to the VAR and service provide community. And, as you can imagine, they are impatient! So we have rolled out some new features which we believe are important. :

• IT wanted more infrastructure and storage management and control. In activEcho, when a user deletes a document it’s actually “marked as deleted” but remains in the system to recover in case it is needed. With 2.1, IT can implement policies to purge deleted content after a period of time of their choosing. This helps keep storage under control. In addition, activEcho now has policies to define how many revisions of a document must be kept in the system. This not only helps with storage costs, but more importantly, it addresses key to compliance needs.

• Exporting event logs. IT needs to be able to not only view the event logs, but also be able to do something useful with it. With our new export capability, IT can click a button in their browser, save the log on to their desktop, and load it into Excel. Quick, easy, useful.

• Skinning and branding for the organization. Organizations like to “blend” solutions like activEcho with the look and feel of the corporate brand, etc. other elements. We already had “skinning”, customization and branding capabilities, so we added more of it plus a sophisticated interface to completely customize email notifications and alerts for users and administrators, embedding images, signatures, legal disclaimers and such. T

• And something for the endusers – very powerful and easy to use 1 and 2 way sync for mobile devices. We have also added a bookmarking capability, enhanced notification subscription options and easier access for Windows, Mac and web browser users.

This is just the beginning of the many new features we are bringing to activEcho and you can expect to see us roll out a significant number of new features as we continue to evolve our Enterprise File Sharing solution.

Last week we introduced activEcho our new Enterprise File Sharing solution. We got a great response some of which you can see here. I also wanted to give some early feedback that we are hearing from our customer conversations in the last week which are really an extension of the comments we were hearing during our 3+ month long beta program. Today, I will focus on the on-premise deployment capabilities for activEcho customers. Customers keep telling us this is one of the biggest advantages of activEcho.

To start we can just take a look at what one of our customers, Ron Kuykendall, Chief Information Officer of Bank of the Ozarks, said (emphasis is mine) in our press release:

“Our users – including executives with iPads – are in need of a simple solution for sharing and collaborating on files and synchronizing those files across their desktops, laptops and tablets. Before we found GroupLogic, we looked at various cloud-based solutions – but they were very consumer-oriented and didn’t address our security and compliance needs. In particular, we just don’t want our data off-site where we can’t control it,” “GroupLogic’s activEcho provides the simple sharing and synchronization to make our users more productive – both internally and working with customers and partners outside the firm. And it supports iPad and other mobile devices. But, unlike consumer-oriented solutions that are out of our control, we can run activEcho on our own infrastructure, and we get the security, visibility and compliance capabilities that we need.”

For regulated industries, such as financial services, and anyone in a security or compliance sensitive organization, the ability to maximize their control is a key decision factor. The on-premise capabilities of activEcho provide customers the freedom to choose the most appropriate model for their organization. They can run it on-premise or in the cloud, in their own instance in Amazon, for example.

The reason why on-premise is so popular with these organizations is because it allows enterprises to have the right security and management in place. Said more simply, the enterprise remains in control.

This gives enterprises several things they are looking for:

1. Control – many organizations want to remain in control of their files. There are concerns about cloud from a security perspective (for example, Dropbox has had many publicized security issues in the last year), performance, and just a general concern about the stability of some of these cloud players. Many of them are new companies that have been around for less than 5 years and in some cases less than 2-3 years. So customers have to ask themselves, what happens to my files if this company disappears?

2. Security – with an on-premise solution many of the company’s existing security policies and infrastructure can be extended to activEcho. Customers tell us this is very appealing as they have invested substantial time and money to create the policies and infrastructure, so it’s ideal to leverage that investment for their activEcho deployment. In addition, activEcho adds a number of key security capabilities such as Active Directory integration, encryption, user whitelists/blacklists, remote wipe of activEcho on mobile devices, etc. that are independent of whether its run on-premise or in the cloud. You can get more details in this white paper.

3. Management – on-premise gives the enterprise control of the solution, including control of the servers, storage and the backup/recovery.

4. Leveraging Existing Storage Investments – Customers tell us they prefer to leverage their existing storage infrastructure which they have already acquired. This gives them better insight into usage but they also sleep better knowing that their files are on storage infrastructure of their choosing.

As I have pointed out in other blogs, we want to give customers the flexibility to choose the model that is right for them. For many organizations, on-premise is that right choice.

Today we are announcing activEcho, our new Enterprise File Sharing solution. In today’s enterprise, people are more collaborative and more mobile than they have ever been. Unfortunately, in some cases this has led many people to use tools and methods that are unsecure, unmanaged, unmonitored and putting enterprises at risk. For example, there are enterprise customers that are using consumer cloud services, such as Dropbox, to get access to their files on their iPads. This might be done unbeknownst to IT or IT has turned a blind eye to the problem. This is not acceptable to security- and compliance-sensitive corporations as well as regulated industries.

What’s required is a solution that provides the simplicity of consumer-grade solutions with the enterprise-grade security, management and flexibility required in today’s IT environments.  This is what hundreds of organizations we spoke to were demanding – secure Enterprise File Sharing and Syncing. We built activEcho based on this demand.

It’s all about letting people collaborate with others as well as allowing them to get access to their files across all their various devices – desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones. But where activEcho differs from many other products and services is that it provides the features and functions that puts IT back in control.

activEcho is the only Enterprise File Sharing (EFS) solution that balances the end user’s need for simplicity with the security, manageability and flexibility required by enterprise IT.  And we do this in several ways:

  1. activEcho was built from an enterprise perspective – We have over 20 years of enterprise experience and hundreds of customers were spoken to in its development.
  2. Flexibility – we allow the enterprise to choose the infrastructure model that is best for them. They can run it on-premise or they can choose it run it in their own private cloud. Or they can run it in Amazon. The point is that IT remains in control and decides what is the best model for them. Most of our beta customers chose to run it on-premise and we believe that will continue to happen in security- and compliance-sensitive corporations as well as regulated industries.
  3. Secure mobile experience – activEcho’s mobile client is really easy to use but where it really shines is the functionality it provides beyond other solutions.
  4. Security  – activEcho provides many key security features that are requirements for many enterprises, including:
    1. Active Directory Integration
    2. Encryption of data at rest and in-motion
    3. Creation of user whitelists and blacklists to control who is sharing file with whom
    4. Full logging, tracking and history of operations
    5. Remote wipe capabilities for mobile devices
    6. Many of the features are administrator-configurable

There is a lot more obviously. We are really excited about this product especially the feedback we have received from our beta customers and some of them have already spoken with their wallets as we have closed several deals already on day one of availability. If you want to see for yourself you can download our free 21-day trial at our web site (www.grouplogic.com). Also a full list of feature/functions can be found on our web site.  In addition, you can watch this video which gives an overview of activEcho and the customer problems we are trying to solve.

As a followup to my last blog post, Forrester recently published a really interesting research report on Macs in the Enterprise called “People Are Bringing Macs To Work — It’s Time To
Repeal Prohibition”
by David K. Johnson. The basic premise of the article is that people want to use their Macs for and that IT departments should let them. And it goes through several steps and solutions for customers to use when considering or implementing Macs in the Enterprise. Needless to say we not only agree with this but see it every day with our ExtremeZ-IP customers.

I was also very interested to see the slew of comments that accommodated this report. There were a few articles written about this report but the one that took my notice was the ArsTechnica article. They wrote up an extensive article on the report and I spent some time reading the commentary which make for interesting and entertaining reading. The first article is here and then they wrote a followup piece this week which you can read here. There are hundreds of comments but you can see that this subject definitely brings out some passionate responses.

As I have written about before there is certainly a core group of Mac users that typically are in advertising, media & entertainment, print/publishing or any of the creative fields. And there are the Education users and all the home users that would love to use a Mac at work. What we are seeing now are the non-traditional verticals also embracing the Mac. There are lots of reasons for this trend. Consumerization of IT is one. Another is the growing role of Apple in the Enteprise, as iPhones and iPads have made significant inroads. We have seen this with our mobilEcho Mobile File Management solution.  This has resulted in a halo effect and a reconsideration of the Mac as an enterprise client. I am sure there are other trends and they all overlap and intersect at various points.

I expect to see more analyst reports and articles on this subject. As David K. Johnson, the author of the report points out, forward-thinking enterprises will embrace this trend. Others who do not do so at their own peril.

Again, if you are interested in reading the report you can get download it here.

Over the last month I have written several blogs on the complementary nature of Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile File Management (MFM). And in that time period we have announced strategic partnerships with the leading MDM players: GOOD Technology and MobileIron. As I have mentioned previously we do field a lot of questions on this subject but it is clear to us, and our new partners, that mobilEcho is a critical part of any organization’s enterprise mobility strategy. To that end, we have recently published a white paper that talks about MFM and MDM. You can get the white paper here.

You can learn more about mobilEcho at our webcast next week which is on Wednesday Nov 2 at 11 am EDT. You can register here or just visit our website at www.grouplogic.com.

I asked T. Reid Lewis, our President and Founder, to provide a few words about the passing of Steve Jobs. Well said, Reid – Anders

All of us will miss Steve Jobs and the panache that he brought to the evolution of our (now digital) culture and lifestyle.

We can honor his life and achievements by striving to learn from and emulate his style in our own lives and careers. Each one of us has contributions to make and challenges to overcome, and many of the lessons we can learn from Steve can be applied by all us. Here are a few that you can start applying today:

Never settle for “good enough” – always strive for the insanely great outcome and fight to overcome any obstacles

Delight your audience – look for innovations that inspire smiles of gratitude from your customers, clients, friends and families

Move forward – constantly replace the old stuff (starting with your ideas) with better ones and battle the naysayer laggards

Simplify – become the master of less is more and work to hide the complexity so that you can delight your audience and confound your competitors

Go further – once you’ve accomplished your goal, add one more thing to seal your achievement

Yes, I know it might be hard to imagine acting like Steve Jobs but I think that, if he had the chance, Steve Jobs would demand it of you! Now, you’ll have to demand it of yourself. So get going. Which brings us to a final lesson we can learn from Steve Jobs: our time will end.

Thanks, Steve Jobs, for teaching us so much about creating and living!

This week’s blog post is from Reid Lewis, our President and one of our Founders. Reed is also President of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance which has recently changed its name to the Enterprise Device Alliance (EDA). This change was done to reflect the changing nature of computing and computing platforms – Anders

On September 22, GroupLogic and its EDA alliance partners announced that the Enterprise Desktop Alliance has changed its name to the Enterprise Device Alliance to reflect the growing importance of iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices in large organizations. The press release can be found here.

The members of the EDA see this as the natural evolution of our Alliance, meeting the changing requirements of enterprise IT organizations. Since 2008, when our organizations came together in recognition of the growing importance of the Mac in enterprise IT, the landscape has evolved considerably. But the rapidity of the adoption of mobile computing is unlike anything in our collective experience. Thus, it’s natural that the EDA adapted to support organizations’ IT infrastructures as they grapple with this new landscape in which mobile devices will play a major and perhaps even dominant role as the tools to access the power of information technology.

Moving ahead, the Enterprise Device Alliance will work to identify and address the challenges faced by IT organizations when they deploy iPhones and iPads in their organizations. Existing EDA offerings such as our Resource Center will now include material on mobility solutions such as mobile device management (MDM), mobile file management (MFM), identity and access management (IAM), IT service management (ITSM) and other solutions that are important to IT organizations. The Alliance is dedicated to adding new solutions that address issues that are unique to enterprise mobility.

EDA webinars, whitepapers, articles, surveys, and presence at industry events will include solutions for iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices as well as the Mac. In these materials, we’ll explore the issues that confront organizations as they plan and deploy these mobile devices and explore how solutions from our companies can help.

The EDA is also doing a survey on mobile device usage. If you are interesting in participating you can find the link here .

We’d value your feedback as to what’s important to you, so let us know what’s on your mind by writing to us at info@grouplogic.com, or posting a comment on this blog, or on Twitter @grouplogic.