Browsing Posts tagged Digital Assets

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.

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.

The pervasive business role of digital content, combined with pressures to reduce costs and increase business efficiency, has escalated the demand for enterprises to better access, share, and manage digital assets. In an effort to meet this demand, organizations have implemented a variety of Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration solutions.

And while these solutions address some of the functional requirements for storing, indexing and retrieving digital content, in many cases, they fall short in effectively addressing today’s collaboration challenges. In addition, our customers report inherent reliability, ease of use, performance and security issues that impair effective digital content access and sharing between ECM/Collaboration systems and their users. Most importantly, these solutions often lack the ability to handle the more stringent demands of digital content-driven business processes.

Organizations are simultaneously seeking new models to more effectively scale their IT infrastructure.  By moving more IT resources into the cloud, better economies of scale are gained by leveraging demand based capacity allocation.  This shift toward cloud computing is not without its challenges.  The cloud is only effective provided that it serves as an extension of locally deployed applications and operates at a performance comparative to local infrastructure.  In order for the cloud to serve as a meaningful deployment option for ECM/Collaboration systems, the transparent, secure, and high performance movement of digital content into and out of the cloud is essential.

Finally, many ECM/Collaboration solutions aren’t capable of supporting today’s multi-platform environments.  And while this has not had an effect on Windows users, Mac users deal with performance, security, data integrity and management issues everyday arising from the inconsistencies between Windows and Mac environments.

We believe that what are needed are solutions to help bridge the gaps left by today’s ECM and collaboration solutions.  In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more from us about the strategic challenges we all must face to address both today’s and tomorrow’s trends in collaboration and information sharing today.