Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Charlotte Spencer-Smith, James Carlini, Yung Chou, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Article

Application Collaboration Goes Virtual

Using virtual war rooms, distributed teams get more real work done

OK, raise your hand if your team has ever traded ten emails to address a problem that could have been solved in two minutes. Take one step forward if you’re spending eight or ten hours a week in unproductive conference calls, trying to work with peers in different locations. Don’t worry...you’re not alone.

Most employees today will tell you they’re drowning in email and meetings, and their teams are still struggling to work together efficiently. Not that long ago, most enterprises got work done in person between the hours of 9am-5pm in office buildings, and complex enterprise applications were handled by IT or specialists. Compare that with today - flexible work hours, telecommuting, distributed teams, and outsourcing are the norm, and employees increasingly rely on a collection of applications to get their jobs done. Unfortunately, many enterprises are behind the curve in helping their teams to collaborate in this new environment.

However, a new class of online application collaboration tools is emerging to help distributed teams communicate and cooperate more effectively, while saving money on travel and wasted meetings. These tools combine “presence” technologies like online chat, VOIP, and webcam video with virtual “war rooms” to let workers collaborate on multiple applications in real time. \

Inward Bound

Today, there are a growing number of services that are jostling to address the enterprise collaboration gap. Online meeting services such as Cisco’s WebEx, Citrix’ Go2Meeting, and Microsoft’s Office Live Meeting, which typically have been used for online sales presentations, are pitching enterprises to use their services for internal meetings and collaboration. For executive teams that can afford a $300,000 system, Cisco’s Telepresence delivers lifelike video conferencing. Legal firms and M&A teams often use services from vendors such as Merrill Corporation to build shared document repositories for each project. Some organizations have even experimented with consumer-oriented services like Second Life and Facebook to enhance team communication. Recently, a new class of enterprise-class application collaboration solutions has been getting traction.

Qwaq, a Redwood City, CA-based vendor, provides its application collaboration solution to over 100 enterprise customers, including large global firms like British Petroleum and Fuji-Xerox. Qwaq offers a solution that can run in the cloud or behind the firewall, and users interact with applications and teammates in an intuitive virtual operations center, much like a 3-D NASA control room. Features such as integrated chat, VOIP, multi-user application sharing, persistent workspaces, and virtual sticky notes help employees quickly drill into data and avoid wasting time.

Greg Nuyens, CEO of Qwaq, points out the business challenge: “As soon as distributed teams need to work together on three or more applications, traditional collaboration tools like email and conference calls break down. We worked closely with our customers to build a multi-application collaboration environment that could really stand up to enterprise requirements. Best of all, end users tell us they enjoy their jobs more when they can focus on real work instead of endless emails and meetings.”

Virtual Collaboration, Real Work

Let’s examine how a large manufacturing firm might use application collaboration to speed up the production lifecycle for a new product. Initially, design teams might build a virtual war room incorporating product requirement documents, CAD diagrams, ERP applications, and project timelines to develop a prototype and draft schedule. Experts from multiple offices could join the meetings, and actively participate by voice, chat, and editing documents. Later, marketing and sales teams could build a launch war room incorporating prototype images, supply chain forecasting applications, and CRM planning tools, with small group and large group discussions. Selected materials could be copied to an external workspace, enabling collaboration with offsite advertising agencies and reseller partners.

In order for enterprises to run their mission-critical applications and data in a collaboration service, the new generation of platforms needs to meet a number of key requirements. All applications and communications must be secured in an encrypted channel, and access controls must be enforced throughout the system. Administrators need to have powerful control over policies, configuration, and user privileges, and the system should be able to synchronize with enterprise directory services. Many organizations will want the option to run the service behind their corporate firewall for internal teams, and use an Internet-hosted version to work with selected partners and consultants. As companies ramp up their usage of the service, scalability and compatibility with a wide range of applications will be critical.

In today’s economic environment, it’s a good bet that getting real work done more efficiently will be an interesting topic. Just don’t send me ten emails for a conference call to discuss it.

More Stories By Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown is CEO of Coraid, Inc. He is an accomplished entrepreneur and executive, with experience in the networking, storage, security, and virtualization sectors. Most recently, he served as President and CEO of Kidaro, a desktop virtualization software vendor, where he led the team to a leadership position in this emerging segment. Kidaro was acquired by Microsoft in May 2008 and incorporated as a key element of Windows virtualization.

Prior to joining Kidaro, Brown served as a vice president on the original executive team of storage security vendor Decru, where he led worldwide marketing, business development, and product management. As one of the leading experts on storage security, he served as an advisor to the U.S. Congress, Federal Trade Commission, and U.S. Department of Defense.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...