Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Dana Gardner, Andy Thurai

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
JETRO showcased Japan Digital Transformation Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo® at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get...