Browsing Posts in Mobile File Management

One of the things that we are always being asked for internally is use cases. With mobilEcho that has not been a problem as we are constantly talking to our customers and potential customers about their enterprise mobility strategies and how they use (or would like to use) mobilEcho. Since a lot of this is the great new frontier with iPads and other devices, use cases have either run all over the place or are very industry, or company, specific. However, early on we did start seeing a few consistent themes that kept popping up. In the next few weeks, I will start outlining these on this blog to give you some insight into the kind of requests we are getting. Obviously this is a bit of a moving target as new ideas are always coming up.

What prompted this was that my wife came back from the hairdresser and told me that they gave her an iPad to look at while she was waiting. I suppose this is an obvious substitute for the magazines that always sit around in places where you have to wait (doctor, dentist, barber, etc.). But it made me start to think about some not-so-obvious uses of enterprise mobility and mobilEcho. I have some ideas on this that I will share after we have presented the main use cases we are seeing today.

One thing to remember is that we provide simple, secure and managed enterprise Mobile File Management (MFM). This is targeted at companies that have security, compliance, governance and management needs.  These use cases are from companies that care about these important factors.

The four primary use cases are as follows:

  1. Empowering Decision Making with Anytime, Anywhere Access – this was initially focused on execs who were bringing iPads into the office and demanded that IT support them. I think this has broadened well beyond execs at this point.
  2. Field Personnel Retrieve Secure Access to Critical Documents, Improving Productivity and SLA Compliance  – this is an obvious one where remote personnel need access to product documentation, for example, and needs online and offline access. This can be further broken down into Field Support and Field Sales which have some different needs.
  3. Driving Team Collaboration with Mobility – general team collaboration extended beyond the desktop/laptop to mobile devices.
  4. iPad Accelerates the Paperless Office Movement – the initial focus here was on board meetings with the ability to allow access to information and then wipe it afterwards. But this has far greater applicability beyond the board. I have even heard of companies where they will provide all documentation via iPad for their annual sales meetings. This includes giving all the sales reps iPads. Apparently cheaper than printing. So it also has a green angle on it as well. The related use case is in the education market with things like digital textbooks.

So in the next few weeks I will publish these on our blog and then also make them available on our website (www.grouplogic.com). And as I mentioned I have also started to keep track of other use cases that have come up or we have thought of that are not yet fully baked that we’ll present here for discussion.

Also, you can follow me on twitter @andersgl.

When we started developing mobilEcho last Fall, one of the basic “givens” that underscored our efforts was that we know who we are: GroupLogic is an enterprise-driven company delivering enterprise-class products regardless of size. Whether it’s the the large financial services or pharma company with 1000s of iPads or the SMB looking to support 25 iPads, these organizations can be sure that critical corporate assets are protected and properly managed. That’s what we did, and will continue to do with all of our products.

Specific to mobilEcho, our core message is grounded in the value propositions of Simple, Secure and Managed. It’s designed to be simple for the end-user, secure to protect the organization’s critical assets, and managed so IT can easily and quickly deploy and maintain the system without incurring escalating costs. Further enhancing these core tenets, we are announcing today several new key enterprise-level components with mobilEcho 2.1. With this new release we are adding support for Microsoft DFS and Network Reshare capabilities to make Mobile File Management (MFM) even more simple and manageable by enhancing scalability and ease-of deployment.

In our discussions with some of our larger customers we have found that both of these functionalities are critical. Here is why:

  • DFS – Support for Distributed File System (DFS) means mobile users can now access files and resources located in consolidated DFS storage. Many larger enterprises use DFS and this is just a basic requirement for them.
  • Network Reshare – Network Reshare allows a single mobilEcho server to give access to files on additional file servers. This presents several opportunities. First, it gives you great scalability as it simplifies the deployment of mobile access to many servers. Second, it simplifies the overall management in enterprises where there are 10s to 100s of servers (or NAS devices) and/or they are geographically dispersed. Third, network reshare allows you to set up a proxy server within your firewall DMZ, giving you much greater security. Finally, with network reshare, organizations can now gain mobile access to SMB/CIFS capable non-Windows servers, such as Linux servers, and NAS devices, such as NetApp, EMC, IBM or others. This greatly expands flexibility for an enterprise.

As I mentioned, mobilEcho 2.1 is already available and we will be hosting another demo webinar in two weeks where we’ll walk you through all the client-side and management features of mobilEcho. We have found that these demos are invaluable for enterprises in truly understanding why Mobile File Management (MFM) is critical to their enterprise mobility strategy. If you are interested you can register here. If you just have some questions you can also contact us at mobilEcho@grouplogic.com.

I watch CNBC just about every morning. Either at the gym, at home or on the road in the hotel. I always find something interesting to take away from it (or at least pass the time on the treadmill). Yesterday they had a gentleman on from Comscore talking about web traffic and where it comes from. The discussion was about US connected device traffic. This is non-computer devices, so smartphones and tablets. 36% of the traffic goes to Android Phones, 24% goes to iPhone, and 22% and iPad. The remainder is a hodge-podge of smartphones and tablets. He also stated that about 97% of all tablet traffic comes from iPads. I am not surprised by these numbers but it astounding to see how much iPad has grown and the market power it as.

The real question is when will other tablets emerge as a viable competitor to iPad? I am no expert on this but it seems to me that the competition has emerged already (RIM Playbook, several Android tablets, and others) and so far seem to be having minimal impact on iPad sales. iPad keeps chugging along and I expect this to continue for some time. I am mostly speaking from an enterprise perspective here where all the conversations we have with customers is about iPad, at least on the tablet side. I keep waiting for a new generation of Android tablets that may perhaps change this dynamic. On the smartphone the dynamic is certainly different. Clearly there is a fair share of Blackberry users still out there. But our discussions are mostly around iPhone and Android. Now admittedly since we are initially targeting iOS devices it’s natural that those are the discussions we get involved in. But we talk to organizations, from the very large to small, and iPad is top of mind in enterprises.

These situations change and certainly competition for iPad will emerge. It just may take a bit longer than many expect. From our point of view, choice is good for customers and our objective is to support customer with whatever device they choose. mobilEcho, and more broadly, Mobile File Management (MFM), is not just about supporting one device but about cross-platform support of heterogeneous device environments.

Anders Lofgren, VP Product Management

Guest blog post this week by our CTO Derick Naef and his thoughts on last week’s Apple WWDC – Anders. Thanks, Derick!

Apple’s Vision and What it Means for iPads in the Enterprise

I attended my first Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 20 years ago, and even though Steve Jobs would not return for another 7 years, the keynote presentation was always a highly anticipated, electric event.  This year was no different – where else do you see people campout overnight on a San Francisco street to get a good view?  Where do you have people lining up four deep so that the line doesn’t wrap around a city block before the big event? 

For enterprise customers, I think this year’s keynote was more significant than the last few years’ speeches – up there with the unveiling of iOS or the AppStore in 2008.  In his presentation of Lion, iOS 5, and the new iCloud service, Steve Jobs presented Apple’s clear vision for how users will work with documents in the future – and it has important implications for the enterprise.

Jobs said their studies show new users do great amounts of learning to operate Macs until a key point – they start interacting with the file system.  Then all bets are off and the learning curve goes straight up.  Apple’s vision is to completely hide the file system from the user and the iPad is the ultimate example of this – there is no file system from the user’s point of view. Apps are like tiny walled gardens that deal with documents and content only, and the functionality of iCloud mimics this – it focuses on sharing content between apps on different devices, not a cloud file system. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is moving in this direction as well, and it is a bold vision.

Our corporate, education and government customers have thousands of file servers, with tens of millions of files.  They have complicated, creative workflows that involve interaction with many users and applications.  They deal with document management systems.  They have strict security, regulatory and governance requirements regarding how information is accessed and protected.  They will not be able to embrace this vision of a file system-less future unless it integrated into this infrastructure.

Does this mean Apple doesn’t care about iPads and Macs in the Enterprise?  No – far from it.  In discussions with Apple field reps, our partners and resellers, it is clear that the enterprise adoption of Macs, and iPads in particular, is a key focus of Apple.  Companies in every industry imaginable are piloting iPads – and it is clear that when those pilots conclude, the demand generation for iPads in the enterprise will skyrocket.  I have repeatedly heard talk about pilots of 10-50 iPads increasing to 4,000+ in deployment within 12 months.

Apple has created a game changing new platform that is on the cusp of revolutionizing corporate and education IT.  Apple’s vision for a file system-less future is compelling, but it needs to have tools to fill in the gap between the vision and the reality.  There is a vibrant green field opportunity to help fill this gap, and this is the opportunity that GroupLogic’s products, such as mobilEcho and ExtremeZ-IP, fulfill.

Derick Naef, CTO

Today, we made a major product announcement at TechCrunch Disrupt with the introduction of mobilEcho, the industry’s first mobile file management (MFM) solution. We believe mobilEcho is a game changer for the enterprise and the evolution of mobility. Enterprises  can now take advantage of all the productivity and user benefits of iPad without worrying about the security and management of enterprise files by implementing  mobilEcho. With the simplicity demanded by end-users, and the security and management required by enterprise IT, mobilEcho provides organizations with the foundation for their mobile file management strategy.

Here’s how mobilEcho works: enterprise IT can now provide secure access to enterprise file servers for any iPad user, eliminating the need for work-arounds that compromise the security of critical corporate assets and files. Time-sucking and security-violating actions like emailing files to yourself or uploading critical files into unsecure, third-party consumer cloud storage systems are no longer necessary to address the demand for access to corporate files and content.

With mobilEcho, IT managers simply install software on the file server, configure user permissions based on Active Directory, and—voila!—your entire enterprise is ready to go within minutes. It’s that simple. Then, the end-user downloads the mobilEcho client from the AppStore to the iPad, and instant, secure access to the file server is now available.

Here’s what iPad users AND IT Managers can do with mobilEcho:

  • Access, Browse, Preview, Cache and Search Files on Corporate File Server through a familiar, PC-style intuitive application interface making it simple to use with virtually no end-user learning curve;
  • Encrypt and securely transfer files to and on iPad, ensuring corporate assets are not compromised in transit;
  • Remotely wipe mobilEcho configuration and resident  files in the event of a lost, stolen or compromised device, protecting corporate files;
  • Integrate easily with Active Directory, enforcing user access rights and file permissions;
  • Configure and deploy both server and client software in less than 10 minutes ensuring IT can get up and running quickly;
  • Enforce unique application requirements, including turning off or on features based on the enterprise’s unique security requirements, including the end-user’s ability to email files, view files in third-party applications and store files on-device.

So why is this so cool?

When I joined the company back in August we started right in on developing a new product strategy. It was clear to us that iPad was already having a major impact on the enterprise. Today, that seems a bit more obvious than it was back then. What’s cool (and completely different) with mobilEcho is that it is inherently designed to address a key concern weighing on the shoulders of EVERY IT organization considering using iPad in their operations – security and management. And, of course we also wanted to make it simple for the enduser. But make no mistake, it is a product designed based on the requirement we heard from 100s of IT folks.

Without a doubt, mobilEcho enhances the capabilities of iPad as an enterprise platform—whether an enterprise is deploying them for a specific work process like sales, field service, asset management, executives, or, basically, any employee OR wants to support employee-owned devices that are being brought into the workplace (like it or not).

mobilEcho gives users access to all of their files- something that’s a “given” with a laptop. Also a “given” with a laptop?  Storing files locally on device to view offline. BUT, not so with iPad. mobilEcho solves all these problems with a simple to use (and familiar) interface for the enduser as well as security and management controls  for the enterprise and IT organization.

And we’d love for you to try mobilEcho. So we are offering a free trial of mobilEcho. You can download the mobilEcho server here: http://www.grouplogic.com/enterprise-file-sharing/ipad-file-system/free-trial.html. And then you can download the mobilEcho client app from the Apple AppStore (also free). I think you will find that mobilEcho can become a cornerstone of your enterprise mobility strategy.

We will be at TechCrunch for the next few days, talking to people about mobilEcho, as well as checking out some of the other exciting companies introducing products. I will be back later this week to let you know what we heard and saw.

Anders Lofgren, VP Product Management