Browsing Posts tagged Collaboration

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

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