Collaboration is one of this year’s hot dickity doodahs of the Cloud, particularly when it comes to working in the collectively capitalist economic climate that is growing out of the recent financial debacle. Working together, not just within individual businesses but across collections of them, is fast becoming one of the core capabilities required for businesses to grow.
Collective Capitalism is now the only way that many business ventures will get completed. At the big end of the scale it is fair to say that no one company – not even the likes of IBM or its equivalent in other industries – now has the resources required handle large ventures single-handed. At the other end of the scale, there is now ever-more scope for small businesses to collaborate as collectives and so take on contracts that none of them could manage alone.
To make that happen effectively means that collaboration across business boundaries, and across traditional firewalls, is now a necessary tool. There is a need for direct and secure communication between `trusted’ partners – where the degree of trust in what information is shared is a matter of business policy. That policy then drives the level and type of security applied to the shared information.
It is at this developing market that Accellion is pitching its new Secure Collaboration tools. According to the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Paula Skokowski, this allows businesses, and individuals within them, to create online workspaces and invite people in on the basis of pre-determined policies. This allows collaboration policies to be established at both levels; an individual can create a workspace and invite individuals from other parts of the business or partner businesses and set access rights to specified documents and files.
But the company can also set policies governing the limits of action and authority that individuals – or categories of staff – are allowed, which ensures that individuals cannot overstep the limits of action set for them. These policies will govern such factors as who is authenticated for access to files, what level of access is allowed and whether files need to be encrypted – either by virtue of the sensitivity of the data or the location of the recipient.
According to Skokowski, the scope of collaboration tools that can work across business partners and other external contacts has been limited to drop boxes at one end of the scale, and expensive, specialized solutions at the other end:
She sees, for example, a big opportunity emerging for collaborative tools linking local and national Government departments with suppliers, agencies and even the public. Here the volume of traffic could be significant, which would tend to rule both the expensive options on the grounds of cost and the drop-boxes on the grounds of zero security. Accellion’s Secure Collaboration can be deployed across the common range of Cloud options – public, private and hybrid – as well as an on-premise based physical appliance, which is where the company got started. For public Cloud support is provided for Amazon’s EC2. For private Clouds support is there for VMware, Citrix Xen and Microsoft Hyper-V, and these can be mixed and matched as required. Skokowski said that there is no support for Microsoft Azure.
She said that the two companies Accellion is most often compared to are Intralinks and Box.net, which represent the two ends of the market spectrum. Box.net is used by individuals setting up free drop box accounts, which provide simple collaboration capabilities, but with no security attached, and no way in which a business can impose its own policies upon. “
Secure Collaboration provides users with an environment that complies with industry and government regulations including SOX, HIPAA and FDA. In addition, it provides integration with Microsoft SharePoint, OCS and other business applications, extending the lifecycle of these current technology investments. And because collaboration is often important to staff on the move, Accellion has also introduced Mobile Apps, with which users can view, comment on and share files via a laptop, smartphone or web-enabled devices using native mobile applications developed by the company for the iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry.