5 mobile content management solutions to keep your data safe

locked mobile phonePhones and tablets have become ubiquitous workplace tools. As such, employees demand access to all the content they need to do their job wherever they might be. And while that’s good for productivity, it can be trouble for security.

If your organization is like most, you have an on-premises solution for content management, but might not have a system in place for when the data is accessed from a mobile device. And if your organization fails to offer adequate access, workers turn to consumer sync and share services — one in five use these services to store and share corporate documents in the cloud, according to a recent Forrester survey. While these solutions are convenient, they lie outside of IT control and expose companies to a number of data security threats.

Five years ago conversations revolved around mobile device management (MDM) as organizations equipped their employees with smartphones and tablets. Now it’s time to talk about mobile content management (MCM) and how to secure corporate data accessed from those devices.

Some organizations might have MCM as part of their MDM solution but aren’t using it. Others have no MCM, and their IT departments are forced to play catch up on data security threats. If you haven’t yet implemented an MCM solution, it’s time to assess your needs and see how they match up to some of the top enterprise-grade options available. (more…)

3 questions to help you find the best enterprise content collaboration solution

Cloud-On-Multiple-DevicesThe storage wars have been a popular topic of late. Whether it’s Microsoft and Google competing with Amazon Web Services’ ever-plummeting prices, or how economies of scale affect a player like Box, these stories often focus myopically on the storage component of the vendors and ignore the more important story: what the different offerings actually enable users and businesses to do with the content once it’s stored in a given system.

Every organization has its own needs and requirements when it comes to content. And businesses are increasingly taking a best-of-breed approach to their IT ecosystem; gone are the days when companies would buy all of their software, hardware, and services from a single vendor. With the rise in adoption of Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, many organizations are looking for complementary content solutions to expand their administrative controls and reporting of content, cross-platform usability, secure external collaboration, and BYOD mobile access.

How do you decide the right approach for your organization? Here are three questions to consider: (more…)

How to prepare for the end of Windows Server 2003

Win2k3After a long and productive life, Windows Server 2003 will soon be retired. Effective July 14, 2015, Microsoft will no longer provide hot fixes, security patches, and updates for Win2k3 and its millions of users.

If we learned anything from Microsoft’s discontinued support for Windows XP in 2014, it’s that organizations should be preparing now. A Windows Server 2003 migration will require your organization to coordinate technical, strategic, and business decisions affecting the backbone of your network software, and failure to migrate before the deadline could threaten your network security and regulatory compliance.

To help you get started — or to add to your already-growing checklist — here are six areas organizations will need to investigate before migrating off of Windows Server 2003: (more…)

3 key takeaways from the latest update to Microsoft’s MPSA

update to MPSAMicrosoft is weaving Software Assurance (SA) into its Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), effective Sept. 1. This is one of several changes rolled out for MPSA that shed light on Microsoft’s direction for the program and make MPSA more attractive.

The addition of SA comes on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement that it’s retiring its Select Plus program, making MSPA a viable alternative for Select Plus now that it includes SA.

To put it simply, MPSA makes it easier for businesses of all sizes to understand the terms and conditions of their agreement, purchase new products, and receive Microsoft support. The addition of SA now allows for upgrades and support under these licenses as well.

Here’s what current and future customers need to know about the addition of SA to MPSA: (more…)

How the retirement of Microsoft’s Select Plus volume licensing program will affect you

Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA)

Broader availability of MPSA is coming this fall.

Since its inception in October 2008, Select Plus has been the recommended transactional volume licensing program for medium-to-large organizations looking to procure Microsoft products and services. But with the introduction of cloud services, such as Office 365, and other new programs, licensing models continued to grow more complex and gain more complicated program terms. For that reason, Microsoft introduced its new volume licensing program vehicle, Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA).

Now, with a broader release of MPSA — including the availability of Software Assurance (SA) — scheduled for September 2014 and worldwide availability planned for July 2015, Microsoft announced it is retiring Select Plus.

The Select Plus licensing program will be phased out in two stages: (more…)

The 5 values that determine your product audit risk

In my first post in the calculating product audit risk (PAR) series, I discussed how organizations should have two different strategies for managing their overall software estate. For the set of products where the value to the business or the risk of non-compliance is high, we suggest a “manage the product” approach. For the rest of the software portfolio, we suggest a “manage the risk” approach. To help differentiate between these two segments of the overall estate, we introduced the PAR value.

As a reminder, here is the PAR formula:

SHI-Product-Audit-Risk-equation

In general, the PAR value is meant to quantify the relative financial risk a product represents within the overall software portfolio. But before you can complete the math, you need to know where to find the factors that go into the equation. Here’s how: (more…)

What’s new in Backup Exec 2014

Symantec released Backup Exec 2014 last month, building on Backup Exec 2012’s advances in backup technology. But in a nod to users, the newest version also reinstated some key, long-standing features that were absent, and sorely missed, from Backup Exec 2012. The changes come on the heels of an extensive beta test conducted earlier this year, and demonstrate that Symantec takes customer feedback to heart. As a former backup administrator, I can tell you that backup admins are creatures of habit, and the last thing they want to do when things are working well is to change something. To that end, the removal of Job Monitor from Backup Exec 2012 and the version’s move from policy-focused backups to server-focused backups left some long-time Backup Exec administrators unhappy.

Symantec Backup Exec 2014But now Job Monitor is back in Backup Exec 2014, as is the ability to create multi-server backup policies. The look and feel of Backup Exec 2014 is similar to 2012, but the inclusion of this functionality cannot be understated. Administrators can once again see the status of all backup jobs from a single, convenient dashboard and can create policies containing multiple servers, which simplifies management. Upgrading from previous versions of Backup Exec is also easier than ever, with settings and policies from versions 12.5 and above maintained in Backup Exec 2014. (more…)

What one organization’s migration from Windows XP can teach you about your IT department

LaptopsWindows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for large and small organizations. Many feared the potential headache associated with transitioning their infrastructures to Windows 7 or Windows 8, not to mention losing the familiarity of XP, leaving some waiting until the last minute to migrate. However, some companies that have moved on found that the migration process wasn’t as difficult as they expected, and more importantly, the conversion created an opportunity to improve their IT processes as a whole.

Facing the end of Windows XP

With the April 8, 2014 deadline quickly approaching, a state agency with more than 22,000 employees took steps to get ahead of its transition, developing a conversion process that it hoped would simplify Windows 7 adoption throughout the organization.

To ease implementation, the agency turned to long-time partner SHI. Knowing the complexities of the agency’s environment, we assessed the conversion process with an eye toward any potential holes as well as opportunities for general improvements to IT. (more…)

5 hidden benefits of Software Assurance

Treasure-Chest-OpensMention Microsoft Software Assurance to an IT manager and the first thing he or she will think of is maintenance. While Software Assurance (SA) does enable software upgrades to newer versions of the products it covers, there is a lot more to it than just that. SA provides Volume Licensing (VL) customers access to a variety of tools training, and other resources to aid in the planning, deployment, and support of Microsoft technologies. The benefits available vary based on the type of VL agreement and the specific licenses purchased, but they’re designed to maximize the value IT pros and end users can extract from an organization’s technology investment.

Many organizations often don’t realize the full potential of SA. Here are five of the most commonly overlooked features of your SA benefits. (more…)

Software license management: Calculating product audit risk

When it comes to compliance risk, we suggest that organizations craft two very different strategies for their overall software estate. Depending on the software, companies should either manage the product or manage the risk.

Manage the product

For high-risk, high-value software products such as Microsoft SQL Server, IBM Websphere, and Oracle databases, companies should pay careful attention to what licenses are bought and allocated and how they are being used. Because these products represent a relatively large portion of software spend and compliance risk, the products should be watched and managed individually and reviewed continually to ensure license utilization is high and compliance risk is low.

Manage the risk

Lower cost or lesser risk software products generally don’t need the same level of attention. Because costs or compliance risks are relatively lower, these products represent a much smaller financial risk to your organization. Managing this group (which could include thousands of software titles) in the same way as high-value products is difficult and unnecessarily expensive. A more efficient approach is to set reasonable, firm policies to guide proper usage and compliance and then conduct occasional spot-checks to find and rectify situations in which those policies were skirted. Since this approach carries a bit more compliance risk, consider setting aside a small opportunity fund to deal with over-deploys or an adverse audit finding. (more…)