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

This past week we launched mobilEcho, our Mobile File Management solution for enterprise iPad users, at TechCrunch Disrupt (http://disrupt.techcrunch.com/). I’d say by all accounts, our launch was a success. We also had numerous interactions at Disrupt with a diverse group of people fellow entrepreneurs, vendors, VCs, enduser, developers, press and others. We were kept very busy and it was very gratifying to see all the nodding heads. People understood the problems with the current state of mobile file access instantly and saw how mobilEcho addressed it.

And most important, we saw a tremendous response from our customers and potential customers. Apple’s iPad has penetrated numerous enterprises and whether its corporate owned or employee owned iPads, mobile file management is seen as a core functionality that needs to be offered to all employees. mobilEcho provides the simplicity, security and management enterprises and IT organizations require.

On TechCrunch Disrupt specifically, the show was great overall with a lot of interesting companies and many great discussions. I did get a chance to walk around and check a few things out but it’s almost a bit of a blur at this point! There were a few things I did like, though. One was Tabbles (www.tabbles.net ) which is basically a way to tag files and other content, like emails, and then organize and find this stuff in a new way. There is a good idea in here. Another one that I liked, but I have to admit, it’s more of a personal interest, was yumm (www.yumm.com).  Which, being a bit of a foodie is really appealing – the app allows me to aggregate all my recipes from various sites (foodnetwork, all recipes, epicurious, chowhound, etc.) into one space. Then it allows me to do a lot of cool stuff with it, like sharing with others, creating shopping lists, creating a food calendar for the week, etc. Again, I am probably selling it short so take a look yourself.

There were plenty of other interesting companies but I just did not get around to see everything (sorry). TechCrunch is definitely a unique event, where anyone interested in what is hot (and not) in technology can see what is about to shift the tech landscape. Plus, with all the startups, it’s a fun place to be. A lot of people with some really cool ideas. Worth checking out if this is up your alley. There’s one coming up in San Francisco in the Fall.

Anders Lofgren, VP Product Management

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

Today Apple announced the end of life for the Xserve family of rack mount server hardware.  What does this mean for you, the Xserve customer?

Apple recommends that you upgrade your Xserve hardware to Mac Pro or Mac Mini hardware. These systems support nearly all of the software functions of Xserve, but neither provides the data center ready form factor and remote LOM management functionality of Xserve.  Given those limitations, you may decide to migrate to another server platform such as Windows or Linux.

If you decide to migrate to Windows, Group Logic can help as we provide a range of software tools to support Macs connecting to Windows servers and support those tools with a strong technical support team well versed in multi-platform solutions. In response to customer feedback, we’ve also modified our pricing to provide flexible licensing options for a range of enterprise requirements and launched a new education pricing program for campus-wide deployments.

The Windows ecosystem has a wide range of tools that support your Xserve transition and supports nearly all of the critical functions that you need to replace.  Group Logic and our partners in the Enterprise Desktop Alliance are just part of the extended ecosystem for integrating Macs into the infrastructure.

For more details on this announcement and your alternatives to Xserve, see our Xserve End of Life – Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have questions or suggestions about your migration, please call us at +1.703.528.155 or email info@grouplogic.com.

Earlier this week, Group Logic announced a new version of our popular ExtremeZ-IP software.  This falls hot on the heels of one of our best quarters ever – in part due to growing revenue generated by ExtremeZ-IP.  So, why the big fuss over ExtremeZ-IP?  Why is this humble, unassuming Windows-based AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) server continuing to grow in popularity even after having been on the market for over ten years?

The answer, it turns out, is simple. It’s because the number of Macs used in today’s enterprise environment has grown – quite a bit.  In fact, Gartner recently reported that the number of Macs in the enterprise is on its way to doubling between 2009 and 2013 (see footnote 1).  And Gartner’s not alone in its findings… Forrester Research echoes Gartner’s data and reports that Mac penetration into the enterprise grew to 3.6% in March of 2009.  And when you project out the Forrester data, Macs will comprise almost 5% of the average enterprise by the end of this year (see footnote 2).

And of course, as the number of Macs grow in the enterprise, so do their user’s demands for transparent access to enterprise services and assets – including content on Windows file servers – an area where ExtremeZ-IP excels.

So, it’s not surprising, that IT administrators now find themselves in the interesting position of having to respond to Mac users who expect the same level of security, performance, reliability, and overall service as has been afforded their Windows counterparts.  And why not?  Mac users are no less deserving of IT attention – are they?  Well, perhaps that’s the subject of another blog… on another day.

But wait, there’s encouraging news for Mac users who were not always welcomed by IT.  According to ITIC, 73% of global IT administrators are saying they will likely allow Macs in the enterprise in the coming year (see footnote 3).

And if the growth in ExtremeZ-IP is any indication of this, it’s clear that IT administrators are on the bandwagon.

(1) “Gartner Predicts 2010: PC End-User Issues”, Gartner Research, December 2009
(2) “Corporate Desktop Operating System Trends, Q3 2008 to Q2 2009”, Forrester Research, July 2009
(3) “The Year in Apple”, MarketWatch, December 2009

Earlier this week, we announced that Group Logic has taken on a new vision and strategy to focus our efforts on providing solutions that empower digital content driven collaboration within our customer’s environments.  In part, our announcement said: “The increasingly pervasive business role of digital content, combined with pressures to reduce costs and increase business efficiency, has further escalated the demand for digital content-based collaboration among enterprises. GLI will focus on delivering software solutions that let companies quickly and easily access, share, and extend their digital content investments to support collaborative business processes and drive strategic advantage – both in the enterprise and in the cloud.”

We’ve worked hard over the last several months to re-focus our company and our product portfolio in support of our customers’ business problems.  We are invested in the technologies that customers have told us they need in order to access, share and manage digital assets, whether on a local server or in the cloud.   These investments have resulted in new capabilities and improvements to the Group Logic products our customers have come to rely upon as well as new products that we are excited to tell you about.

In a second announcement that occurred today, we announced a brand new line-up of our MassTransit Managed File Transfer (MFT) solution suite.  We unveiled a new version of our enterprise MFT solution, newly renamed, MassTransit HP 7.0.  MassTransit HP 7.0 is the company’s highest performance, most reliable and easiest to use MFT solution yet.  To fuel its performance boost, MassTransit HP now supports a new UDP-based protocol that yields the highest performance data transfer rates and eliminates latency issues.  Benchmarked at speeds up to 20X faster than other leading, FTP-based offerings – MassTransit HP is also faster than any other UDP-enabled product in the market today.

In addition, we’re releasing the industry’s first completely free, commercially developed and supported Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) server offering.  Built on the core MassTransit engine,  MassTransit SFTP will allow our existing customers to standardize on a single Managed File Transfer platform at no additional cost.   Organizations that don’t currently use MassTransit, can now deploy a supported, FREE SFTP server they can upgrade to higher performance protocols as their business needs demand faster file transfers.

We’ll have more announcements to make in the coming days of July, so stay tuned!

According to Forrester Research¹, 94% of us use email as our primary collaboration tool.  Whether it’s for sharing medical research information, financial records, or the latest marketing campaign creative layouts, email has become the ubiquitous vehicle for sharing today’s rapidly growing wealth of unstructured data (e.g. PDFs, PowerPoint charts, digital images, audio and video).

In fact, a recent survey conducted by Group Logic showed that 70% use email most often to share large files (read unstructured data).  So what’s the problem here?

As the amount and size of digital content grows over time, it has simply gotten to the point where it won’t fit through the email pipe anymore.  Take for example, marketing creative files.  A short television ad spot can take hundreds of megabytes of storage.  Sending this through traditional email systems simply won’t work.

Using email to send files is slow, inefficient, unreliable, and actually creates a great deal of potential for legal liability.  It’s an example of one of the ad-hoc business processes that smart companies are eliminating now in favor of more effective technologies like Managed File Transfer (MFT).  We see more and more companies extending their existing email tools with embedded MFT solutions that strip out attachments and transfer them in a more secure, efficient way.

And then there’s the security aspect.  Objects like medical images, or sensitive financial records needs a whole new level of security – not just to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands, but also to comply with today’s strict regulatory compliance standards – standards like SOX, HIPAA, or GLBA.

In the survey referenced above, over half (51 percent) admitted at least one type of other email error while trying to collaborate with large digital files.  Perhaps most alarmingly, nearly 10 per cent admitted emailing a customer an attachment meant for a different customer altogether.

Despite email’s prevalence, it’s clear that once companies really begin to scale their collaboration efforts, company leaders quickly realize the importance of using solutions like MFT for secure and governed transfer of digital assets.  And while we view MFT as an critical means of bridging the gaps in today’s email and collaboration tools, it goes without saying that the adoption of known best practices is essential to ensuring effective control and compliance over how information is shared within the enterprise.

1 – “The State of Collaboration Software Adoption”, Forrester Research, April 2010

Digital content has an increasingly important role in business today.  Medical teams use X-Rays and MRIs to diagnose patients. Engineers share design files as they develop new products. And agency design teams collaborate on creative layouts for marketing campaigns.

The rapid growth in digital content is driving over 49% of today’s enterprise and SMB companies to adopt one of today’s enterprise content management or collaboration solutions.  That said, if you listen to the companies who have already made the jump to one or more of today’s ECM (enterprise content management) or collaboration tool suites, the move to these tools will be met with challenges and obstacles – largely because ECM and collaboration tools fail to meet many of today’s tough requirements for security, reliability, ease of use and performance in particular.

So, what are companies saying about the collaboration tool adoption process?  Many customers today look for leaner and more agile solutions according to Forrester Research.  In addition, companies are increasingly looking to integrate SharePoint with their existing ECM systems.  In fact, cross-product integration is probably the number one requirement we hear over and over again.  Vendors, are you listening?

The second biggest issue we hear about is performance.  Getting data into and out of today’s ECM systems can be a real headache – especially if the underlying data transfer technology is FTP.  We hear over and over again, that users simply throw their hands up in frustration because the time it takes to get data into and out of many of today’s systems is simply too onerous.

Because of these limitations, much digital content at the enterprise level remains unmanaged within either an ECM or collaboration tool.  And yet, according to Forrester Research, over 37% of enterprise and small to medium sized businesses will adopt an ECM (enterprise content management) or collaboration tool suite in 2010.  Go figure!

Have a collaboration tool war story to share?

  1. Email is a viable way to share digital content: Most IT organizations enforce a strict 5 MB file size limit on email attachments.  This in itself poses a serious limitation for sharing most digital content.  More importantly however, built-in security compliance in today’s email environment often falls short of what is required by information protection regulations such as SOX, HIPAA, and GLBA.  Check your email system’s inherent capability for securing digital content and ensure it meets today’s compliance and governance requirements.
    Conventional FTP tools are an ideal means by which you can securely transfer digital content: We’ve all used File Transfer Protocol (FTP) at one point or another to send files to our colleagues, other business units or partners.  But did you know that FTP is far from a secure means to share information (digital content or otherwise)?  FTP relies on a basic mechanism of authentication and authorization to grant access to file-based data.  Have you ever noticed however, that once you’ve been authenticated by the FTP system you can not only see your own files, but often any number of files from other users?  This is because, once you send a file via FTP, it remains on the FTP server until you or someone else deletes it.
    All Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are created equal: Today’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems seem perfect for storing, cataloging, searching and otherwise managing digital content, right?  Well, maybe… you see, not all DAM’s are created equal.  Most of today’s DAM’s rely upon FTP to transfer information between users and the DAM (see number 2 above for why this is a bad idea from a security perspective).  But there’s something else to know about FTP as well.  FTP performance and reliability leaves much to be desired.  Imagine you are uploading a 500 MB file to your DAM.  You are about an hour into the process and a little over half of the file is sent.  Then, for no apparent reason, the FTP server stops.  What do you do then?  Basically, you have to start over from the beginning.  Lesson learned… stay away from FTP and any DAM that relies upon it.