The Mobile Workforce Conundrum - IT vs. the User

By Ingo Fuchs, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, NetApp


Imagine this scenario. You sit down at an airport to wait for your flight. A few minutes before boarding you receive a call from your boss demanding a certain presentation. The presentation is needed for an important meeting in 10 minutes. What now? Do you quickly fire up your laptop leveraging the heavily abused airport Wi-Fi, connect to your VPN and email the presentation? With this alternative, there are a few potential scenarios: the Wi-Fi will be slow (if it works at all), the file is too big to send, it gets stuck in your “Outbox” folder and so and so on.


So what is a road warrior like myself to do? (Hint: mobile hotspots are not the answer)


Ideally, I grab my important files and automatically sync everything between my laptop and mobile devices - then the cloud. With this, I conveniently have access to all my data from my mobile devices and can send my boss a link to the important presentation, instead of the file itself. Quick, easy and efficient. These services are available for free (with limitations such as capacity) from a number of companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Dropbox and Box.


While this is ideal for me, it is not great from the point of view of IT. Once this confidential data is out on my personal, consumer-grade, cloud service it is outside the control of IT, or my company in general. What if I leave the company? Even when I return the laptop and other technology tools, the data is still within my cloud. I am outside the boundary for security and privacy for the company.


Is this an uncommon problem? Well, analyst firm ESG stated in a recent survey that 97 percent of enterprises want to use on-premises data in OFS (Online File Sharing) solutions. So no, it is a pervasive problem for organizations of all sizes, small, medium and large.


So, you ask, what is the ideal solution to make users AND IT happy? At NetApp we understand this issue, NetApp Connect, which enables the hybrid cloud by providing customers with secure and convenient access to on-premises data through cloud applications.


Data that is stored in CIFS file shares, Sharepoint sites or home directories are now accessible from mobile devices (and laptops/desktops) via native, easy-to-use apps.


Essentially, with NetApp Connect, IT gets to control access to data (leveraging existing Active Directory and LDAP authentication infrastructure and ACL rules) while using existing storage infrastructures. Additionally, IT can continue to use the well-established and tested best practices for data security, data protection and compliance.


An important aspect to consider is the actual client apps that are running on the mobile devices - many customers I have spoken to are not able or willing to compromise on just one. HR and Legal might need one client, while sales or engineering might need another. Marketing is often the first group to start using these kinds of services, so they might already have an established client they would like to use.


With NetApp Connect, IT now has a central point of access and control across these apps. Initial NetApp technology partners that are demoing their integration with NetApp Connect include EgnyteSookasa and Storgrid, all of which have unique features that set them apart.


As you may suspect I am a road warrior, which means my plane is about to take off and I need to shut down. I look forward to reading your comments about your feelings around this mobile workforce conundrum and how you plan to address the challenge. 


You can find more information on NetApp Connect here.


Partner Support:


Bart Giordano, VP, Partner Sales and Business Development, Egnyte

  • “Egnyte delivers best-in-class Enterprise File Services that work with any cloud, any application, and any storage. Expanding our strong partnership with NetApp beyond their storage portfolio aims to provide users complete, seamless access to their critical business data via SharePoint, whether in the cloud or on-premises, while giving IT the security, visibility, and performance they require in their infrastructure."

Asaf Cidon, CEO and co-founder, Sookasa

  • “As the mobile workforce evolves, the need for solutions such as Dropbox, which allow for quick and easy access to data, becomes more crucial. With NetApp Connect, Sookasa will now have the ability to extend our integration with Dropbox to include on-premises data in a single, simple, and secure solution.”

Rob Christ, CEO, Storgrid

  • “As technology evolves, the one continued challenge is security. Our customers demand solutions that run 100 percent on-premises and provide them with the ability to easily and securely access their data on the go. With NetApp Connect, we can provide our customers secure mobile access and collaboration with a variety of data sources, such as SharePoint, without compromising data protection.”