Browsing Posts tagged Enterprise IT

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.

Last week we introduced mobilEcho 3.5, the latest version of our Mobile File Management solution. In this version we introduced a number of new features including:

• Two-way syncing of files;
• HTTPS Reverse Proxy password and certificate authentication;
• Streamlined device enrollment process;
• Integration with Quickoffice’s “Save Back” feature; and
• Whitelisting or blacklisting of third party apps allowed to “Open In.”

One of the things we continue to hear from our customers loud and clear is the need for security. Many of the features that we have introduced with 3.5 have their origins in requests from customers that were security-related. HTTPS Reverse Proxy password and certificate authentication enables requiring two-factor authentication which is a frequent request, especially from financial services companies. Integration with Quickoffice and their “Save Back” feature allows a user to access a document in mobilEcho, use “Open In” to open the doc in Quickoffice, edit it, and then save it back to mobilEcho. This also sets the stage for some other cool things we will be able to do in the future. The whitelisting and blacklisting was yet another request by customers, many in regulated industries. The IT and Security departments want the ability to limit the apps that can be used to open a file from mobilEcho. Again, the demand from the enterprise is to ensure that mobile users are not employing non-sanctioned tools so that they can limit their security and compliance exposure.

This is not to minimize the introduction of two-way syncing or the improved enrollment process. For example, the one-way syncing feature we’ve had since last year has been extremely well received by our customers. One hailed as the feature that made mobilEcho a true “business platform.” With the introduction of two-way syncing the ability to collaborate on files is even greater with mobilEcho.

As I have noted in past posts, this is a continuing theme for mobilEcho and it will continue to be a theme for a long time. We have many more exciting features we will be rolling out in the next few months so stay tuned…

Windows IT Pro magazine recently completed a review of our ExtremeZ-IP solution and gave it 4.5 out of 5! Needless to say, we are pretty excited about this and just wanted to share this article. ExtremeZ-IP is used by thousands of organizations around the world and is considered by many to be the gold standard for providing seamless file access for Macintosh clients in Windows server environments. It simply takes care of all the problems, big and small, that users encounter when trying to integrate these two disparate worlds. And the Windows IT Pro review confirms what these thousands of customers already know – it solves their problems.

In the year since I joined the company I have seen some interesting trends in our ExtremeZ-IP customers. While we have always been strong in the obvious Mac fields – education, advertising, print/publishing, media &entertainment, and other creative fields – we are also seeing other companies in non-traditional verticals opening up to the idea of supporting the Mac. So we are seeing the evolution of IT consumerization right before our very eyes. And we see the same thing with the Apple in the Enterprise trend. We see it both on the desktop/laptop side with our ExtremeZ-IP business as well as on the mobility side with our mobilEcho business. The interest level in ExtremeZ-IP (as measured by leads) has almost doubled over the last year. We are seeing more interest now than we have ever seen. The pace really started to accelerate with the introduction of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and we see no sign of this slowing down.

And it’s easy to see why this is happening. ExtremeZ-IP provides true enterprise integration of Macintosh clients into Windows server environments, and addresses all the key issues, including:
• Compatibility – problems with file corruption, file permissions, application lockups and file names disappear.
• Performance – ExtremeZ-IP consistently provides a higher performing experience than competitive solutions.
• Maintains the Mac experience for the user – ExtremeZ-IP ensures Mac users maintain the full range of the Mac experience, such as spotlight search, whereas other solutions result in degraded user functionality
• Management and security – for the IT organization, management is made easy and security is maintained with integration into Active Directory.

So if you get a chance take a look at the Windows IT Pro review. Or better yet, just download our free trial and take it for a spin yourself.

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