Despite views to the contrary, content remains king for us personally and professionally. As such, having secure access to it wherever it resides when we need it on our interaction device of choice is critical, particularly when we are in work mode. However, how can IT departments in a BYOD world have the visibility and control they need to secure the enterprise when the content users require to be more productive literally can and does reside anywhere, including on third-party servers? Furthermore, how can they do so while ensuring corporate governance requirements are respected?
As enterprises around the world bend to the need to accommodate the growing pervasiveness of workers relying heavily on their smartphones and tablets to get their work done, a sense of urgency has arisen to find a solution to the questions above. Developing a solution that answers them has been tackled by cloud-based mobile content solutions provider Averail, which announced it has integrated support for Salesforce CRM and Chatter content with Averail Access. Because of the expanse of accessible content being federated, this is something that commands attention.
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Secure access to what you need, when you need it
In a nutshell, what Averail Access now lets users do is browse documents stored in Chatter or in Salesforce by account, lead, contact or opportunity. As Averail explains, users can not only view notes for a specific account, but they can securely upload new notes or documents to Salesforce from Averail Access.
By itself this is a valuable capability, especially for workers in the field who are constantly on the move. Where it becomes more useful as a productivity tool is in the ability to provide centralized access for employees to safely move documents from Salesforce to Microsoft SharePoint, Box or Dropbox, and other repositories. Such interactions are something that are not just cumbersome today but also are (to be frank) risky business.
In addition, being under centralized management means IT gets peace of mind about all of that data mobility-centric workers are employing on their devices. IT can have three things they crave that have become security industry mantra—visibility, contextual awareness and control. Combined these are all critically important for meeting corporate governance and compliance mandates.
Averail CEO Marc Olesen commented on the latest integrations, stating that, “As the No. 1 CRM vendor, Salesforce.com is storing important sales assets…Our new integration with Salesforce enables mobile professionals to efficiently and securely access, manage and share this content.”
Averail Access has been designed to meet the requirements of two masters, IT and the BYOD armed mobile worker. For IT, Averail Access provides cloud-based content controls and policy settings that give administrators the ability to implement granular policies by document, device and/or user to most appropriately manage sensitive and non-sensitive content. The user gets easy access to productivity tools without the worry of whether or not what they are doing and where they are going is OK; in short, a nice balancing of needs, and a foundation for restoring trust between IT and the users of its services.
New product updates include iPhone app and native editing of MS Office Docs
The Salesforce support is not the only news from Averail. They also announced a new iPhone app, as well as software updates and enhancements for current apps, including native editing capabilities for Microsoft Office docs.
The iPhone or iPad app lets users quickly access, browse, share and edit content stored on-premises behind a firewall (e.g. Sharepoint, shared network drives,) and in the cloud (e.g. Box, Dropbox, Office365, Egnyte). Averail states, “While other solutions permit the user to access and share documents, Averail also includes the ability to make and save changes to documents when online or offline. Native editing of Microsoft Office docs is available in SharePoint and Office365.”
I had the opportunity to speak with Averail CEO Marc Olesen about the significance of the company’s approach and where we are in terms of adoption. The first point he made was: “We are at a tipping point. People want to be more productive when working remotely and on the move and they are willing and able to access what they believe they need regardless of IT policies and rules. ‘Shadow IT’ is the name for this, but the way to understand what is going on from IT’s perspective is that we know have ‘content chaos’ and IT really does need to have control over business sensitive content.”
He further noted, “Having tools such as Averail Access that enables secured federation of the content that is business critical regardless of repository is a win/win. It bridges the growing trust gap giving IT not just visibility, but flexibility in policy and control while employees get what they want without access being blocked.”
Olesen also point out that the Averail solution has a number of what he sees as differentiated advantages over other approaches. It integrates with Active Directory and leverages the credentials tied to directory, supports single sign-on authentication is its various flavors and enables IT to leverage existing investments in popular mobile device management (MDM) solutions to take advantage of their authentication capabilities.
He also explained that “workaround of IT by users put content at risk and, hence, the enterprise. Something is needed to address exposure for example when content is inappropriately put in the cloud and we address that issue head-on with secure federation.” Indeed, design considerations were driven by the need to end “content chaos” and use the cloud to enable federation regardless of where content is stored, give IT track, trace and control capabilities, which are critical to meeting compliance requirements, and make all of this user friendly.
The last point is actually very important: “If it is not easy to use it will not be, and that defeats the purpose,” Olesen stated. Averail Access does not store data itself, but what it does do is allow users from one app to safely eliminate the siloed nature of getting to all of the resources they need which is a real obstacle to productivity. Simultaneously it also eliminates user skepticism of IT while providing those responsible for protecting enterprise assets and managing risks what they need to do their job effectively and efficiently as well.
Security as a Service, i.e., that ‘other SaaS,’ is still in its infancy. There is a lot of market education to be done and cultural chasms to be crossed before it becomes more commonplace. However, as Olesen correctly notes, BYOD is inevitable and there really is a tidal wave of mobile device and hence mobile data access needs coming.
We are at a tipping point which I have called in previous postings, “IT Anarchy.” Regardless of the name, there is an urgency to meeting the challenges sited above that should be addressed. As we look to the cloud as the place for delivering virtually (pardon the pun) every type of communications and computing services, it makes sense that it be a primary place to find security solutions as well.
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