Jul 162013

I do a lot of work with customers who want to share files between all of their user’s devices.  There are a number of commercial solutions available on the market like DropBox, Box, SkyDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive which utilize the public cloud to provide this data storage.  Unfortunately for them, the latest revelation from Edward Snowden was that allegedly, Microsoft was working closely with the NSA to provide direct access to Office 365, Skype and Skydrive (which Microsoft has since refuted).  Wither true or not, this does not create a good public relations experience for the world of public cloud storage.

Customers that I work with are always concerned with public cloud data leakage.  Data leakage is the possible release of company information caused by the unavoidable release of control over the security of the company’s data when stored in the public cloud.  The fear is that once this data is stored in the public cloud, the customer has no control over where it is stored or who has access to it.  As Edward Snowden revealed last week, it is possible that the NSA has access to files you store in the public cloud.  The problem is not that the NSA has this access, the problem is that the NSA is not impervious to data leakage themselves, as Mr. Snowden has shown.  Even though public cloud storage companies state that your data is protected, they are required to by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders.  Not exactly installing me with a load of confidence.

So what’s a customer to do?  Intro: Horizon Workspace Data and Citrix Sharefile.  Horizon Workspace Data from VMware is private cloud only and does not contain any public cloud components.  It allows customers to share files between all of their user devices(Tablets, desktops, laptops, smartphones, etc) while storing the main copy of the data on private cloud servers in your datacenter.   Citrix Sharefile can store your data in the public cloud or on-premise storage zones.  However, even if you do use your own on-premise storage zones, Sharefile does house a directory inventory on the control plane in the public cloud.  So while the data can be stored in the private cloud, the directory listing gets shared with the public cloud.  Either way, the data itself is in your datacenter and not in the public cloud.

These two solutions (as well as a host of others) are looking more and more enticing to customers looking to provide access to their data for their users while still maintaining as much control as possible.  In the meantime, the public cloud alternatives will need to bandage their image for a while.  The bottom line is that there is no guarantee that our data is 100% private when it traverses the internet.  Maybe we should follow Russia and go back to using typewriters.  Or maybe we learn to accept the fact that this is the world we live in and that our data is never 100% secure.

Jul 092013

Ever since it was announced at the World Wide Developer’s Conference in June, Apple’s new IOS 7 has garnered a lot of attention.  One of the Apple web pages that appeared shortly after the announcement was a page listing the features of IOS 7 that will benefit businesses.  Many of the features listed were already being achieved (to some degree) by XenMobile but are now being integrated into the IOS 7 Operating System.  This will inherently give a leg up to both parties, solidifying what XenMobile was attempting and accelerating the functionality Workspace can provide.  Let’s have a look at the feature categories that Apple is promoting for business users (the italicized text is referenced from Apple’s IOS 7 for Business web page, please refer to that page for full information from Apple.)

Open in managementProtect corporate data by controlling which apps and accounts are used to open documents and attachments. Managed open in gives IT the ability to configure the list of apps available in the sharing panel. This keeps work documents in corporate apps and also prevents personal documents from being opened in managed apps.

This basically provides MDM controls to which applications can be use to open or not open a file type in IOS.  XenMobile was already doing this in the apps it controlled and Workspace had the ability to turn this ability on or off completely from the data stored in workspace.  Both products can benefit from this additional management and control.

Per app VPNApps can now be configured to automatically connect to VPN when they are launched. Per app VPN gives IT granular control over corporate network access. It ensures that data transmitted by managed apps travels through VPN — and that other data, like an employee’s personal web browsing activity, does not.

This has to be the most underrated business feature of IOS7.  This one has the ability to be a significant game changer and possibly have more impact than most realize.   Continue reading »