There is no doubt that security is one of the key topics raised by customers when discussing their enterprise mobility strategies. One of the first things I would say about mobile security is that good mobile security starts with good overall security. What I mean by that is that mobile security has to be viewed in the greater context of an overall security infrastructure within an enterprise. Why? There are several reasons, but scaling and streamlining management is one, setting a universal set of policies is another (although there needs to be flexibility here), and to address the notion that a security plan is only as good as its weakest link. So you can’t view mobile security in isolation, especially given the current and projected proliferation of these devices and their increasing usage.

From a mobility perspective, many of these discussions start with Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions such as those from Mobile Iron, Good Technology, Sybase, AirWatch, Absolute, JAMF, and others. However, there is also a need to provide secure Mobile File Management (MFM). Just like enterprises need to provide simple and secure file access to their desktop and laptop users, they also need to do that on mobile devices. This means an MFM solution requires several things:

1. Providing encryption in-transit as well as on the device
2. Integrating with existing security infrastructure, such as Active Directory
3. Giving IT the management capabilities to turn functions on/off to meet corporate security policies. For example, the ability to turn on/off the “open in” function.
4. Remote wipe so that the application and its data can be permanently deleted if the device is lost, stolen or compromised.
5. Having control of the file servers/storage resources themselves.
6. Ability to audit both management and user activities.

And there is much more of course but those are some of the basics to think about. If you are interested in hearing more about mobilEcho, we are holding a live demo/webinar/chat on October 12 at 11am Eastern (4pm GMT). The registration is here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/523964858 . This is a general overview of mobilEcho but highlights many of the enterprise security features as well.

We have been holding monthly webinars and live demos on mobilEcho for a few months now, and we have received a tremendous response (even for what would be considered down months in July and August). One of the things we learned pretty early on is that there is no substitute for seeing the product in action and that is why we these live demo sessions have been so popular (and why we do the 21-day free trial). Our mobilEcho Product Manager, Brian Ulmer, runs through a few quick slides then spends the majority of the time demo’ing the client and management capabilities of mobilEcho. And we answer questions via chat. Hope you can join us.

You can follow me on Twiitter @andersgl and you can follow GroupLogic @grouplogic.

In my last post, I talked about Mobile File Management (MFM) and why I thought it was important (Essentially, it makes up for the lack of an iPad file system, amongst other things). One question that comes up occasionally with our customers is, “how are you different than mobile device management (MDM)? Do I need both?” They are, in fact, very different; addressing very different needs. I would also say that they are very complementary solutions and for an enterprise, they are both core to any enterprise mobility strategy.

Just by way of short definitions. MDM helps organizations to manage, secure and monitor the mobile HW and OS. MFM provide secure and managed access to corporate files and content. I am sure some would quibble over these oversimplified definitions but I am just trying to put a general framework around it. The point is that they are not competitive and address very different customer needs. In discussions with customers we will naturally hear about their use of various MDM vendors such as Mobile Iron, Good Technology, Sybase, AirWatch, Absolute, JAMF, and others.

The point I am making is that as enterprise mobility continues to grow there are a number of core functions that need to be there. Some of them are obvious (ex. Email). Others are not as obvious yet. But it is very clear from the conversations we have with enterprise customers that there needs to be a whole ecosystem of functionality around mobility In other words, a group of core applications that are applicable to just about every enterprise user and organization. This is obviously still evolving although some of the pieces already exist but it is fragmented. My expectation is that enterprises will be looking to address necessary management and security functions in a number of different areas. MDM and MFM are but two critical areas, and from my perspective, they are completely complementary.

With the increased usage of mobile devices has also come a host of new needs and new capabilities. Certainly the emergence of Apple’s App Store and all its applications has changed the way people, both consumers and enterprise users, utilize and interact with applications. However, as much as things change, things also stay the same. Most users, be they consumer or enterprise, have a need for email. It is a core function that you expect from a computing device. Web access through a web browser is another. And if you have email you probably need some kind of address book/contact manager, and you may as well throw in a calendar in there as well so you can keep track of your appointments and meetings. I would call these core functions of any computing platform. And lo and behold, the mobile computing devices so popular today offer this functionality.

But there is one core function that has been completely under-served, and perhaps said more strongly, completely missed. And that is file access. How do mobile devices access files that you created that sit on laptops, desktops, corporate file servers or even NAS (network attached storage) devices? That is where Mobile File Management (MFM) solutions step in. Essentially, MFM solutions allow users to get access to files. For us this is an enterprise focus and we address it with our mobilEcho solution. What makes mobilEcho an enterprise MFM solution is that it not only provides the simplicity for the end-user but more importantly, provides the security and management need by IT organizations.

So why is MFM important? Whether we like it or not we still live in a world of files. And for decades we have been producing files – and spent plenty of money doing it. Now we have a wave of new mobility devices – the iPad being the best example of all. So the question is, “how do you access all those files, all that content, which you work with on a daily basis on your laptop or desktop, from your iPad?” In other words, how do we get mobile file access to files sitting on corporate servers, just like I have access to the file servers from my laptop or desktop? Now, we are an enterprise company (for over 20 years now) so we are obviously not just concerned about the access but also about providing safe, secure, and managed access to files – whether they be documents, spreadsheets, presentations or other formats.

For us, this is what Mobile File Management is all about. The ability to access and manage files from a mobile device.

This is the fourth and final use case (for now) that we are publishing. All of these will also be available up on our web site shortly. And as we gather more insight from customers and how they are using mobilEcho we will publish those as well – Anders.

Collaboration within enterprises is at an all-time high with the advent of new technologies to accelerate the process. Enterprise mobility introduces a new set of issues as users are no longer locked to their desktop or laptop. The introduction of new devices – tablets and smartphones – has necessitated a new set of technologies to address the issue of anytime, anywhere access.

With some mobile devices, like iPad and iPhone, the lack of a native file system or method to distribute files, and different versions of files, to a group of people, has inhibited any true mobile collaboration within a team. Many users, lacking a real solution to the problem, found workarounds in using consumer synching services which provide some, albeit limited, ability to collaborate across teams and different lines of businesses. However, although simple to use, consumer synching services not only limit IT’s ability to manage file sharing and access, but pose a severe security risk for violating corporate governance and compliance policies.

An alternative option? Build custom applications for various mobile-driven collaboration efforts. But much of the collaboration needs to be done on standard file types and is occasionally informal in nature. Custom apps may not support all file types nor provide the simple methods that users are accustomed to when working from their desktop or laptop. In addition, this approach requires additional cost which usually involves a long time to market as well as custom development and maintenance which results in skyrocketing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), limited return and an unproductive user learning curve.

The Solution: mobilEcho
mobilEcho is the industry’s first and only Mobile File Management (MFM) software for enterprise mobile device users. mobilEcho enables enterprise IT to provide secure access to enterprise file servers for users of mobile devices like iPad and iPhone, eliminating the need for work-arounds like emailing files to yourself or storing critical enterprise files in unsecure consumer synch services.

Collaboration usually takes the form of working on particular files – documents, presentations, spreadsheets and other file types. And it can take place anywhere, any time. The benefit of mobilEcho is that it extends the office beyond its physical four walls, and gives users the same access to files on corporate file servers that they have in the office. There is no need to develop a new mobile application, no need to buy new storage and servers to make files accessible solely for mobile devices. GroupLogic’s mobilEcho works on your existing file servers and files to give users the same access they have on their desktops and laptops.

With mobilEcho, employees can use shared folders to store files for collaboration. The files can then be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s through a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Users can review and edit files from a mobile device, and, then, save the file back to the shared folder. Employees can even save a file locally to the device, if IT opts to configure that permission, so they can work on it offline.

Significant productivity can be gained as mobile employees now have the same access they have in the office. The team is able to move forward with projects regardless of where the employee is. In addition, IT is empowered with the security and management capabilities it needs to effectively implement and administer the solution. mobilEcho addresses the security requirements by providing key features such as encryption, integration with Active Directory, and remote wipe capability. Further, mobilEcho addresses management requirements by providing an array of administrator-configurable settings and policies through its server-side management console.

Benefits to the user and the enterprise:
• Improved productivity as employees can now collaborate anytime, anywhere in a very simple, familiar manner
• Access to critical, detailed information on-the-go that goes beyond the packaged templates of third-party mobile applications.
• Improved collaboration between employees by making the mobile device an extension of the physical office.
• Ensures proper security and compliance for sensitive business data.
• Provides key management functionality to provide the appropriate end-user functions.

 The third in a series of posts on various use cases for mobilEcho we are seeing from our customers.  Next week we will post the fourth piece on collaboration – Anders

Secure Access to Corporate Documents Improves First-Call Resolution and SLA Compliance

Field workers – from asset maintenance to service professionals—have a demand for mobile applications that improve their productivity and provide them with the information required to resolve service issues on the first call, meet SLAs (service level agreements) and track billing, order entry and inventory information accurately. Whether they are responding to reactive maintenance issues or resolving pre-scheduled customer requests, access to customer and equipment information (including history) and time tracking software is critical to efficient and profitable operations.

Today, there are many software providers and platforms that provide robust and configurable productivity applications to field service organizations that help streamline the workflow and capture essential information like customer signatures, time spent and parts used with a host of technologies, from barcode scanning to geo-tagging.

However, field service personnel cannot rely solely on field service applications on iPad, iPhone or other mobile devices to meet every work requirement. Just like every other employee, field workers need access to documents that reside on corporate file servers such as timesheets, marketing materials, equipment manuals, human resources documents, incident reports, and compliance documents to fully meet their day-to-day responsibilities. But, the challenge has been how to provide this access to the mobile workforce in a simple, secure and managed way.

Some personnel will find workarounds to this problem by using consumer synch services. This introduces a host of problems including setting the corporation up for significant security and compliance risk.

The Solution: mobilEcho
As the industry’s first and only Mobile File Management (MFM) software for enterprise iPad users, mobilEcho enables enterprise IT to provide secure access to enterprise file servers. With mobilEcho, enterprises can empower their mobile workforce with all the files – document, spreadsheets, presentations, and other file types – that they require in their day-to-day job functions.

mobilEcho offers a better alternative to custom built mobile applications. Rather than reinventing the wheel, organizations can leverage existing content by making it accessible in minutes to all of their iPad users. It also allows personnel to store documents locally so that they still have access to their files even when they’re offline. Equipment manuals, marketing material, product specs and other critical documents can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Obviously, the end-user benefits from these features, but so does the enterprise. mobilEcho provides the key management and security needs for the enterprise, while also providing a very simple method for participants to access files without any training necessary.

Benefits to Field Service Users:
• Access to critical documents to improve employee productivity.
• Improved collaboration with other LOBs, like sales, inventory management, dispatch and others.
• Access to detailed information on the go that goes beyond the packaged templates of mobile workforce applications.
• Ensures proper security and compliance for sensitive business data.

The second in a series of use cases we are seeing with mobilEcho customers. Will publish a third in the next week or so – Anders

New portable computing devices like iPad have re-invigorated the enterprise move toward the “paperless” office. In addition to benefits like improved collaboration and reduced IT Management costs, many companies are looking at tablets to help them with corporate-wide Green initiatives that reduce carbon footprint through the elimination of paper consumption.

One of the obvious enterprise areas where iPad and other tablets can help reduce paper consumption and promoter a leaner and greener business is with participants in meetings and presentations. Instead of printing out reams of papers, which is both time consuming and not eco-friendly, participants can use iPads as an alternative to paper.
There is no doubt there are clear benefits to moving to an electronic format but this also necessitates that a number of functions become available. For example, for meetings of a confidential nature there has to be a way to remotely wipe files from an iPad or to limit the user’s ability to move or copy a file. Another example is the ability to update documents for meetings that are held regularly. Files need to be updated centrally and then easily accessed by participants.

 

The Solution: mobilEcho
Meeting material can take many forms – documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other formats – any meeting material solution needs to support these formats. GroupLogic’s mobilEcho provides the flexibility to address most file formats and provides the key functionality to provide the security and management of meeting materials that is required by enterprises. mobilEcho is the industry’s first and only Mobile File Management (MFM) software for enterprise iPad users. mobilEcho enables enterprise IT to provide secure access to enterprise file servers for iPad users, eliminating the need for work-arounds like emailing files to yourself or storing critical enterprise files in unsecure consumer synch services.

Meeting administrators can simply utilize “meeting folders” on file servers to upload meeting materials. Users can then access these files from their iPad by connecting to the “meeting folder.” The administrators can decide what level of access the users should have – read only, ability to store or not store locally on iPad, ability to open up files in other apps, etc. In short, mobilEcho provides the key management and security needs for the enterprise, while also providing a very simple method for participants to access files without any training necessary.

Benefits to the user and the enterprise:
• Supports Green Initiatives and carbon footprint reductions.
• Eliminates the costs of printing and paper.
• Simplified updating of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
• Easily enforce access rights and permissions to meeting materials for assured policy compliance.
• Improved security policy and document management regardless of lost or compromised devices with mobilEcho features like read-only and remote wipe.
• Reduced IT management time and headaches with one cohesive solution.
• Deployment and scalability guaranteed with advanced and intuitive management tools that provide immediate integration with existing ecosystem.

As noted in my last posting, this is the first of several mobilEcho use cases we will be publishing over the next few weeks. These will demonstrate just a few of the ways that customers are using mobilEcho in their enterprises. Today, these are more or less more horizontally-focused but over time we expect to see vertical-focused usage as well – Anders

Empowering Decision Making with Anytime, Anywhere Access
From the small business to the Fortune 500, an enterprise’s mobility strategy is driven often by the earliest adopters of the latest and greatest mobile devices and platforms—senior executives. Providing mobile access to crucial applications like email and Personal Information Management (PIM) is a required component of enabling anytime business communication for the management team. Also essential, but not often provided by IT because of security concerns, is mobile access to corporate files and content that are required to operate the business, such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more.

When it comes to supporting iPad, the challenge for IT organizations increases exponentially. The popular tablet lacks a native file system which makes accessing, interacting and moving files from a corporate network to the device in a simple, secure and managed manner difficult. To further complicate things, many users resort to work-around solutions that compromise corporate security such as storing corporate assets in third-party consumer synching solutions or emailing files to themselves. These work-arounds are extremely dangerous as they expose the enterprise to data leakage and other security risks, raising questions about regulatory compliance and corporate governance. Further, they are simply not productive for the end-user nor are scalable for the enterprise.

The Solution: mobilEcho
The enterprise mobility challenges faced by IT organizations in providing mobile file access are not only common, but frustrating. Most IT managers are struggling to answer the simple question: How do I provide a simple solution for the end-user, as well as a solution that meets the security and management criteria of the IT organization?

The answer is mobilEcho, the industry’s first and only secure Mobile File Management (MFM) product for enterprise iPad users.

With mobilEcho, enterprises can take full advantage of the power and freedom of iPad by providing access to corporate files, such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other file types. It meets the simplicity requirements for the end-user by using a very familiar interface paradigm that requires no training. On the security front, mobilEcho provides key features such as encryption, integration with Active Directory, and remote wipe capability. And, it addresses IT management requirements by providing an array of administrator-configurable settings and policies through its server-side management console that keeps deployment time under ten minutes and on-going cost of ownership low. In addition, mobilEcho’s support for Network Reshares and Distributed File Systems (DFS) ensure that the largest organizations can deploy globally and support increased use of iPad in their enterprises. With mobilEcho, executives can now access files just like they would with a laptop or desktop. Furthermore, they are able to store files locally on iPad to be accessed offline. For example, one can download documents before a flight and then access those files offline while on the plane. mobilEcho is not only a secure mobile access solution but also a secure mobile file storage solution that promotes efficiency without sacrificing security.

Benefits to the user and the enterprise:
• Anytime, anywhere access to critical corporate documents
• Easy and intuitive to use for added productivity and instant communication of senior management
• Improved collaboration between business units with real time information.
• Enforcement of proper security and compliance for sensitive business data.
• Simple and fast deployment and configuration for ease of use.
• Instant integration with Active Directory ensures security and user policies are enforced.

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.

Today, I’ve asked Reid Lewis, our President and Founder, to share a few thoughts on our latest ExtremeZ-IP 7.2 release – Anders

Yesterday Apple released Lion, an important upgrade to Mac OS X, and GroupLogic is ready with an enhanced version of ExtremeZ-IP. The new ExtremeZ-IP has been improved and extensively tested confirming it supports Apple’s improvements to Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) including its improved security and all of the many functions of Lion that ExtremeZ-IP delivers to Mac users connecting to Windows servers. If your organization supports Mac clients with Windows servers and Active Directory, ExtremeZ-IP is the only solution that can deliver the complete Mac OS X experience integrating Mac and Windows users on Windows infrastructure.

GroupLogic engineers have been working with Apple engineers for months testing Lion with ExtremeZ-IP to ensure that your users can upgrade to Lion with complete confidence that their Windows file server solution will continue to provide unmatched performance and trouble free compatibility. This is the seventh major Mac OS X upgrade that we’ve supported with ExtremeZ-IP and we’re excited that Mac OS X Lion is faster and easier than ever. We’re all enjoying Lion’s cool-iOS inspired features that we’ve been experiencing on our iPads and iPhones. If you’re running older Mac OS systems, I’m happy to report that ExtremeZ-IP is backwards compatible from Lion and Snow Leopard all the way back to Mac OS 9.2 so all of your Macs can safely co-exisit with Macs running Lion.

ExtremeZ-IP bring Lion compatibility to all modern Windows versions including Server versions 2003 through 64-bit 2008 R2. ExtremeZ-IP has proven integration with the enterprise features of Windows Server including Active Directory managed permissions (often a source of trouble for Mac users with SMB), Windows Search, Distributed File System (DFS), Clustering for failover, backup solutions and the wide range of hardware choices and virtualization options available for Windows.

As we have seen over the past couple years, Apple continues to improve AFP, maintaining it’s file copying and directory listing speed advantages over the SMB (Windows file sharing protocol). And since Apple doesn’t control the SMB protocol or the SMB server on Windows, it’s unable to bring its new ideas to SMB making AFP the only way to get the full Mac OS X experience. For example, Apple has had to remove Time Machine support for the SMB protocol because of it’s inability to evolve the SMB protocol to support the needs of this important function. The speedy searches delivered by Network Spotlight are still missing when searching non-Apple servers via SMB while Network Spotlight has been supported by ExtremeZ-IP for years.

At GroupLogic, we hear daily from our customers that they rely on the compatibility and performance of AFP as delivered by ExtremeZ-IP, and the support and rapid response to maintenance issues that they know they can get from GroupLogic.

I encourage you to plan your migration path to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion as soon as practical and be sure to upgrade to ExtremeZ-IP 7.2 first.

As always, please share your thoughts and suggestions with us by writing info@grouplogic.com.

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.