Like many people, I found it maddening that what amounted to an extreme game of “chicken” between BART management and its union so negatively impacted hundreds of thousands of Bay Area workers. Both sides dared the other to back down first, while each side refused to budge. Well, it looks like somebody blinked because the trains are running again.
While it’s great that this debacle is finally behind us, it should remind companies that they need a plan in the event that their employees cannot make it to work. Whether it’s a transit strike, inclement weather, or other events that block employees from getting to work, access to email, files and business apps will keep them productive while away from the office.
We know that BYOD provides more than eight hours of additional productivity per week as employees will normally work outside of the traditional office location and hours time frame. This same model could be used when employees cannot make it to work for whatever reason.
What’s important here is to be prepared for any situation. And in this case of the BART strike, business didn’t need to come to a halt or have major productivity hiccups if employees had a way to effectively work from home or other temporary locations. If businesses implemented a platform and process to ensure their workers had secure and easy access to 100% of their business files, employees could work remotely as effectively as if they were in the office.
Here are a few tips for preparing for these types of obstacles:
- Enable employees to easily access their files from wherever the files are stored – in the cloud or behind the firewall
- Ensure that users are able to use different devices for off-hours work or for business continuity
- Provide web and/or mobile device access to email
- Have a mobile policy in place. This way, employees will know the proper steps to take while working remotely on their devices
- Be prepared to remotely wipe devices of everything work related including emails and business files if needed for security reasons
Most people can get by for a short amount of time with these basic tools or use them to increase productivity while away from the office. Whether your company has a telecommuting policy or not, sometimes businesses don’t have a choice if workers can make it to the office each day. So, why not put the tools in place to not only grab some extra hours of employee productivity but, more importantly, be able to have that employee work from anywhere in the event that they cannot make it to the office?
Egnyte exhibited at Gartner Symposium ITxpo two weeks ago, and I was shocked at how many new companies were there that had some form of cloud-only file sharing. Of course, there were the typical companies that enable you to drop files into a folder that will sync to the cloud for sharing and mobile access. But there were also a few companies that added file-sharing capabilities to the files that were backed up from their computer.
The nice thing about this situation was that it was easy for us to explain how Egnyte is different, especially after the attendees visited the cloud-only solutions. We simply said that we can do the same cloud-only file sharing that the gazillion other vendors do but can enable the accessing and sharing of files DIRECTLY from ANY on-premise storage device – all from the same interface.
We discussed a study from IDG Research showing that less than 10% of files are stored in the cloud and that 61% of files will NEVER go into the cloud due to security concerns. While most of our booth visitors knew that large files and the cloud simply do not mix because of performance issues, they all knew how that it’s virtually impossible to move even a moderate amount of data to the cloud.
Their eyes lit up when we showed them Egnyte’s single interface into all of the files a user has permission to access, whether it is the less than 10% in the cloud or the 90% that is stored behind the firewall. And their ears really perked up when we told them that the same great features (encryption on the device, remote wipe, offline sync control, etc.) are available regardless of where the files are stored – in our cloud, any public cloud, or in any type of on-premises storage. They truly understood the power of separating the cloud-based control plane from the storage plane and the access path to that storage.
I want to extend a hearty welcome to all the new entrants adding more competition to the overly crowded, 39% of the file sharing market that’s focused solely on cloud-only file-sharing. We’re happy to bring our cloud-based solution to that party and highlight great features like sub-folder permissions and sub-folder sync. However, we’re also quite happy to engage in the much less crowded 61% of the market that cannot use cloud-only file sharing but want a single solution that is simple for users and secure for IT.
These days, from elementary school to university, educators and students are utilizing the latest in technology to facilitate and enhance the learning process. To keep their learning levels top-notch, educational institutions are adopting the latest technologies to keep their students competitive and help prepare them for successful careers.The Show Must Go On Due to circumstances outside a teacher’s control, school days may be canceled or lesson plans may need to be shifted. Houston Christian High School deals with this issue regularly due to severe weather during hurricane season that causes delays or school day cancellations. The school uses Egnyte as a key tool in its disaster preparedness planning.
Houston Christian installed Egnyte Desktop Sync on all staff and teacher laptops. Desktop Sync provided teachers with quick, local access to all of their files while maintaining fast, efficient data backup. In the event of a hurricane or other severe weather, they can work remotely without interruption to their workflow.
“Moving our files to Egnyte has enabled us to increase the flow of communication between teachers and students,” said Michelle Vaughn, director of technology at Houston Christian High School. “We hope to teach our students to be leaders in technology in their schools, and Egnyte gives us one way to do so.”Eliminating Rogue Cloud Storage For the fast-paced university environment, educators and administrators require quick access to data for sharing files inside and outside of the university. Unapproved and insecure cloud solutions are commonly used for submitting paperwork and sharing documents between teachers and students, which can put a university at security risk. Trevecca University in Tennessee decided they needed a secure solution for sharing documents so they switched from consumer cloud offerings to Egnyte, which enabled them to set a standard for file sharing. Egnyte provides the school’s IT department with control and visibility over its data yet still allow users to easily share files when and where they need them.
Paul Maune, technology coordinator at Trevecca University, said that Egnyte enables his staff to monitor files and assist employees in resolving their issues. The centralized administration and reporting capabilities provides his team with peace of mind because they know their files are secure.Breaking Down the Distance Barriers Educators and students are always on the move. Westmont College in California is a great example of this since it has teams that travel constantly and some that always work on campus. To bridge the gap and keep everyone on the same page, the college implemented Egnyte for all of its file sharing needs – from accessing data both in the cloud and behind the firewall in its on-premise managed SAN. No matter where Westmont’s teams access files, Egnyte keeps everything synchronized for easy collaboration. They spend less time keeping baseline services functioning at enterprise levels and more time working on the next strategic initiative that can move their college forward.
Reed A. Sheard, Ed.D, vice president for College Advancement and chief information officer of Westmont College, used Box prior to Egnyte and had such a rocky experience with Box’s service that he decided to make the switch over to Egnyte. “Our experience with Egnyte has been rock solid. It works, it’s fast and it extended the value of cloud services at our college.”
Educational institutions know all about needing the right tools to keep their students learning with a competitive edge. These schools – and Egnyte’s other 30,000 customers – recognize that our enterprise-grade solution is an essential tool in their educator “toolbox” for success. Learn more about Egnyte, and read other Egnyte case studies.
Most good venture firms provide not just money, but “smart money”. No one epitomizes that better than our friends at Google Ventures (GV). Post leading our round last July, they have consistently and constantly helped with marketing, product design and even recruiting. One area that I would like to specifically point out is the amazing help and guidance we have gotten from their product and web design team, specifically Jake Knapp, Braden Kowitz, Daniel Burka and Michael Margolis.
We’ve been working with them for over a year on both big projects (e.g. the new UI we introduced a few months ago) to small projects. The major thrust of what they do is not to do design for us, but facilitate us in doing better design ourselves. This comes from asking the right questions, imposing a workflow, and teaching us. They’ve used user testing as a major part of their process and it has proven successful, allowing us to iterate on designs before having development start on them.
They act as an important sounding board of people who know our product reasonably well, but at the same time aren’t down in the weeds every day…which allows them to provide honest and (fairly) objective feedback. The original ‘sprint’ we did with them long ago and the recent Design Boot Camp were both very helpful for us.
Another areas where they have had a significant impact is user testing of side-by-side comparison with other solutions in the space helped us understand bigger wasn’t always better when it came to usability. They helped us to identify and understand user reactions to our designs and to the designs of similar solutions in the marketplace. Equipped w/ these new insights, we improved our UX. It was eye-opening to watch users struggle w/ the UX of major players in the space-whom we had thought were leading the pack and breeze through our own product.
GV states, “We help you build better products”. That is true in every way. From design sprints to user research, they were there to help guide us and not to design for us. Help mentor us by having another set of eyes to see what we might not see. They actually do all they say they do. It’s not just a group of designers trying to design they way they want, but to actually help you validate what’s right and what’s not.
The thing that stands out is that despite their brilliance, they have a tremendous amount of humility and are the first to admit that some of their designs may not work in the real world. In fact, the “humble gene” is part of the DNA of folks at Google, who my team and me interact with regularly. They don’t have the commensurate hubris despite the smarts and the financial success they have achieved. I find that rare in the valley.
While it’s often difficult to say goodbye to old relationships, there comes a day when you have to move on. That’s true not just for people. Technology changes too, and as much as we can become complacent with the status quo – for good or bad, change is usually for the better. Back in the day, the Virtual Private Network (VPN) was a boon when we wanted to work from home or had to collaborate on projects from the road. And it was a huge advance at the time because it provided a way for you to get access to ALL the files you needed, no matter where you were. But it’s time to move on.
As we look back on what we’re leaving behind, it’s important to remember the good times with the bad. Before we say goodbye, let’s take a look back at the benefits and drawbacks of our dear old friend, the VPN.
- The VPN was awesome securing your data. It held your data and held it tight. The VPN was always great at securing your computer’s Internet connection to ensure that all of the data you were sending and receiving was encrypted and secured from prying eyes.
- The VPN did not try to break the laws of data gravity. The VPN provided secure access to data that was in place behind the firewall. It did not require the shipping of hard drives to a cloud provider to be able to access files while remote or on mobile devices.
- The VPN loved sharing files. Employees that worked remotely needed access to any file in their organization that they had permission to access. It allowed remote and mobile employees to be just as productive as employees in the office.
- The VPN liked picking fights. Accessing data from mobile devices offsite was a nightmare! After numerous attempts to access company data with the VPN, there was that sweet success when you finally connected. The VPN regularly thought it was hilarious to kick you off the network – always at THE WORST possible times!
- The VPN dragged its feet. When trying to access data, the VPN would slowly get the data and share it back with you. You could have more easily run back to the office, got the file and went back to your client meeting by the time the VPN gave you the data you needed.
- The VPN didn’t play well with others. When throwing different types of technologies into the mix and having numerous devices trying to access company data, the VPN’s performance was often lacking. It preferred for things to be simple, and today’s work environment is far from that.
Like a bittersweet romance that’s over once and for all, it’s good to recollect and then move on. And the good news is, another option is available, which will make it very easy to move on without regrets…
Egnyte’s file-sharing platform brings together all of the great advantages of the VPN and tackles the obstacles at the same time. Businesses can easily set file permissions to ensure the right people have the right access to their files. It doesn’t matter if a user is accessing the data from an office computer, at home on a laptop or at a client site from a tablet. The VPN is no longer needed. Users can now easily collaborate with colleagues by securely sharing and accessing files on any device, from any location and from any storage area – cloud or on-premise storage – without the headaches of our dear friend, the VPN. The future technology is here, and it’s time for companies to embrace the new way of sharing files and data.
To that end: Goodbye, VPN.