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The company employs roughly three hundred people and, with many sales, marketing and engineering staff traveling frequently around the world, the company found itself looking for a way its road warriors could have access to the most up-to-date files at all times, no matter what time zone they were in.
Royce Boehrs (left), network/security administrator at Bedford Industries, was called upon to come up with a strategy.
"We are much more concerned about malware, phishing, hacking and all security threats than we were 10 years ago," he says. "Security is much more a priority and requires much more time than it used to. Particularly, the proliferation of mobile devices has seriously increased the company's exposure to security threats and intrusions. Thus, more company policies have been created to emphasize each employee's responsibility when they have a mobile device."
Apple's iPad seemed to be the best solution for the company, but Boehrs was concerned about how he and his seven-person IT team could maintain the security and integrity of private corporate files. "In addition, the lack of a native iPad file system would mean that employees would have to use unsecured consumer synching services, like Dropbox, that lacked IT management control or email the file to themselves," he says. "That was an inefficient work around and put corporate files at risk."
Boehrs knew that if his team could get the security issues addressed, and believe that nothing stored on the company's servers would be compromised, they could give the salespeople and other staff access to information they might need at a moment's notice to close business and perform better account management.
Boehrs and his team did a significant amount of research, but couldn't come up with anything that addressed all of the company's needs – from the security concerns to the ability to control, i.e., wiping the files from the iPads remotely if they get lost. They considered cloud-based solutions, using the VPN built into iPad and other VPN clients, but there were issues with that strategy.
After a thorough investigation, Boehrs came upon the recent release of MobilEcho, a product that, according to Anders Lofgren, vice president of product management and marketing at Arlington, Va.-based GroupLogic, enables simple, secure and managed mobile file management for IT staff and mobile device users.
"Prior to MobilEcho, mobile users had no choice but to email files to themselves or use third-party consumer synching solutions, which violate enterprise security policies," Lofgren says. "MobilEcho's rapid configuration and deployment tools enable IT to deploy an enterprise-wide mobile file management solution in minutes, and without any services-related costs."
Boehrs offers as illustration an example where one of Bedford's regional sales managers was out to dinner with a client in Mexico City. As the night went on, they started talking about one of the company's newer products, and some questions came up. So, rather than wait to email the person more information the next day, the manager used MobilEcho to get on the company server immediately, pulled down a video, and showed it in real time.
"It made a huge impact and secured the sale on site," says Boehrs. "Before MobilEcho, that never would have been possible."
With a large in-house graphic arts department, Bedford had been using GroupLogic's ExtremeZ-IP system for more than 10 years to integrate its Mac computers into its Windows infrastructure, so Boehrs was already familiar with the company, rated its products highly and believed its customer service outstanding.
"GroupLogic's products have always been easy to install, and focused on IT managers and security professionals for reducing IT management costs, not to mention eliminating the stress and headaches that go along with managing multiple users and devices," he says. "For those reasons and more, when we heard about MobilEcho, we jumped at the chance to try it because of our level of confidence in GroupLogic."
He says the software on the server side was easy to implement and deploy, giving the company the ability to get files off its server right away. "It takes less than 10 minutes to install on a Windows server and configure permissions," he says. "It also integrates directly into Active Directory, so that makes it very easy to ensure compliance. Plus, there are no services costs related to deployment, which saves money and makes everything easier."
There was, however, a bump in the road getting started, he admits. "As early adopters of mobilEcho, we encountered a couple of minor issues with the server configuration, but GroupLogic's tech support worked with us to find the problems and then they incorporated the “fixes” in a minor release update," Boehrs says. "Since then, the updates have applied perfectly and the system has worked flawlessly."
People from a variety of departments throughout the company, including the company's management team, have now been given iPads equipped with MobilEcho access. And they will soon be offered iPhones as well.
For companies that have a lot of people who travel, Boehrs says there's a clear need for tablet devices. "We have salespeople, engineers, marketers,and more, that are constantly on the road, so bringing files back and forth via MobilEcho has been invaluable," he says. "Tools like this have made it possible for information to be absolutely secure, and the added efficiency it brings to people that travel is worth more to our executives, and to our employees, than the cost of the device itself. I'd probably have a rebellion on my hands if I tried to take them away from our staff now."
MobilEcho is available in a subscription-based pricing model, limiting up-front investment and enabling enterprises to scale as their enterprise mobile device user base expands, says Lofgren. "The tool makes it easy for IT organizations to embrace the consumerization of IT without worrying about the security risks associated with personal devices accessing enterprise files."
When a new version becomes available, update notifications appear in the App Store, just like other iPad and iPhone apps.
For the server-side installation, MobilEcho customers are notified of updates from customer support through email. "It's a very straightforward update process, says Lofgren. "There is no need for reinstallation. Updates take less than five minutes."
MobilEcho was designed to enable more enterprises to benefit from the power of mobile devices, he says.