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Friday, April 13, 2012

Extend enterprise collaboration to tablets

By Will Kelly | April 12, 2012, 7:39 AM PDT

Today's model for enterprise collaboration isn't just about PCs and Macs anymore. Collaboration needs to extend to tablets, not only because of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but because tablets are playing an increasing role in many businesses. You need to implement a strategy and appropriate technology choices to help your organization extend enterprise collaboration to tablets — whether they be BYOD or company-owned — without a loss of communications or productivity.

Bring the tablet to the enterprise

Making corporate or BYOD tablets collaboration worthy requires some standards, training, and potential adjustments to existing processes. Here are some actions to consider when extending enterprise collaboration to your tablet users:

Provide collaboration training and documentation for tablet users. Since enterprise collaboration probably predates tablet usage inside your organization, some end user training on how to use the new apps are going to be in order, especially with document collaboration software. This training is best done prior to mobile users hitting the road for the first time with their new tablets.

Account for tablet users in help desk processes and escalation procedures. If tablets are new to the enterprise, then it's time to provide training to the help desk staff so they can service the new tablets users, including their connectivity and application issues.

Use a standard Office app on your corporate tablets. While Microsoft Office for the iPad is still at the rumor stage at the time of this writing, choices do abound for Office apps on the tablet, such as iWork (iPad only), CloudOn (Android version on the horizon), Documents To Go (iPad and Android), and Quickoffice Pro (iPad and Android). Each of these apps has their strengths and drawbacks, so set your expectations accordingly. Test your documents, like presentation slides, on tablets before you let the users loose out in the field, especially if customers will be viewing them.

Adapt processes for tablet users (if needed): Audit your current business processes to see if you need to adjust them for tablet users, particularly those who might be coming into the corporate network remotely.

Bring the enterprise to tablets

Companies like IBM and a growing list of other vendors are already extending their collaboration apps to tablets, but extending an existing collaboration platform is often possible. Besides general practices at the network access and tablet levels, there's the collaboration platform itself to worry about, including built-In security checks and audits.

Extending enterprise collaboration to tablets in your organization might add some additional requirements to your internally hosted or cloud-based collaboration platform. These include:

SSL encryption for all communications. Look for 256-bit SSL to protect data transport between the collaboration platform and the tablet user.

Strong data encryption. Database protection should be with 256-bit AES data encryption. Limit access to an IP range.

Mobile-specific security settings. Shut down clients by type to allow or disallow web, desktop, and mobile from connecting with your network. Administrators configure in-app settings to control access through IP ranges. Setup password strength requirements.

Directory services support. Look for Active Directory or LDAP support, depending on your organizational standard.

Detailed access logs. Look for a platform with detailed logs per user/device that's fully auditable. The logs should be in a fully encrypted database on the server.

Outside of locking down your enterprise collaboration platform, here are a few other options to pursue for extending enterprise collaboration to your organization's tablets:

Standardize on a SharePoint app (if you are a SharePoint shop). A big question for organizations standardized on Microsoft SharePoint is how to get their tablets to access SharePoint data. I use SharePlus (available for the iPad and Android), but there's also Moprise (another iPad favorite), mDMS, Forms Central, FocusShareEZ, and Filamente Lite. SharePoint apps for the iPad are an interesting lot, because they exist at the intersection of the Apple user experience and, well, SharePoint. My first reaction to using SharePlus was, "It's like they put an iPad wrapper on a SharePoint site." So, I recommend some user training, depending on the tablet users reactions to the apps.

Use third-party cloud services for file collaboration. If SharePoint isn't a standard inside your organization, or you can't justify extending your on-premise collaboration tools to tablet users for budget, staffing, or infrastructure reasons, then look to third-party cloud services like Central Desktop, Huddle, Dropbox, or Box for file collaboration. These services have both free and fee-based offerings with solid iPad and Android clients for tablet users.

Use Unified Communications (UC). Today's UC platforms combine the best of VoIP calling, Video conferencing, IM, and presence for cubicle-bound and mobile users, which is integral for communications and collaboration with coworkers. Going with a UC platform like Microsoft Lync or Cisco Jabber (complete with iPad and Android clients) can provide full communications and collaborative access to coworkers, customers, and partners.

Use cloud-based project management applications. While Microsoft Project is the standard project management application in many organizations, there are some exciting things happening with cloud-based project management applications. For example, LiquidPlanner — which has a robust feature set and clients for Android and the iPad — helps centralize all your project management data and artifacts, making them equally accessible to cubicle-bound workers on their PCs and mobile workers using tablets out in the field.

Of course, the same old basics, like requiring your entire network to create strong passwords that expire over time, still apply when you add tablets to your enterprise collaboration mix.

Tablets, enterprise collaboration, and your organization

Taking extra care with both tablet and enterprise requirements means extending collaboration to your organization's tablet users can be done without sacrificing productivity or security. Have you implemented tablets in your organization?
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

ManageEngine Adds Configuration Management to ServiceDesk PlusI

TIL-Ready Help Desk Gains New CMDB, Enhanced Service Catalog

ServiceDesk Plus CMDB frees proactive asset management from the data center for IT organizations of all sizes

Free, 30-day, fully functional trial edition is available at

April 10, 2012 — ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, announced it is augmenting ServiceDesk Plus, its ITIL-ready help desk software, with new integrated asset management capabilities. ServiceDesk Plus is gaining a configuration management database (CMDB) and several new features including an upgraded service catalog, enhanced self-service portal, automation of common help desk processes and complete integration with other ManageEngine software suites.

Many IT organizations are managing business-critical systems and services completely reactively. They rely on network monitoring tools, help desk software and other solutions to provide notifications about problems and outages after they've already occurred and are impacting the business. These organizations could dramatically improve uptime and overall end-user experience while simultaneously preventing costly, time consuming issues by identifying and managing the relationships and dependencies of all technology assets — hardware, software, services and non-traditional devices — with a CMDB. It doesn't matter if an IT asset is managed inside a formal data center or outside; the pace of modern business can make any technology component become business critical in almost an instant. This means that the visibility and benefits that a CMDB can provide are important for systems and services.

"At the end of the day, our customers must deliver high quality business services to their users, and we are committed to helping them succeed," said Uma Shankar, product manager at ManageEngine. "We have worked on this new version with a great deal of customer input, getting their requirements through the beta release and making the product more user friendly. The all-new CMDB, enhanced service catalog and other features in the latest version of ServiceDesk Plus are all designed to help IT organizations optimize service uptime and end-user experience."

Inside ServiceDesk Plus

ServiceDesk Plus has strengthened its ITIL capabilities with an all-new CMDB to improve overall service availability and mean time to resolution. ManageEngine designed the CMDB in ServiceDesk Plus to address core usability challenges facing typical CMDBs. Most CMDBs are complex and difficult to use, so many IT organizations either 1) fail to implement a CMDB or 2) fail to take full advantage of the CMDB they have implemented. By eliminating complexity and emphasizing ease of use, the ServiceDesk Plus CMDB extends the uptime advantages and business benefits to all IT assets throughout the organization.

The ServiceDesk Plus CMDB is highlighted by a direct visualization map that defines and displays the inter-relationships of each IT asset (aka configuration item, or CI), giving users a complete visual representation of the network. The system can discover relationships between the CIs automatically and populate the details into the CMDB via an Active Directory or LDAP import.

By identifying CI dependencies and their impact on the environment, ManageEngine's CMDB can help IT plan - before performing any changes. Organizations can also integrate incident, problem and change modules with the CMDB to provide a consolidated view of pending issues associated with any CI. The result is higher quality of service delivered by help desk staff with the cost, complexity and expense of traditional configuration management solutions.

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus also includes an enhanced Service Catalog, with a new multi-level approval feature for service requests. Now, ServiceDesk Plus makes it easier for end users to view the SLAs' "agreed upon time," which is displayed before creating the service request, making the service catalog customizable to fit the needs of individual organizations.

ServiceDesk Plus also adds new capabilities for the self-service portal. With easier trouble ticket creation, the self-service portal reduces the load for IT administrators. The upgraded user interface and the real-time streaming of ticket status and history let end users help themselves — without intervention from support staffs. The new asset depreciation feature can be configured to assets in ServiceDesk Plus.

Pricing and Availability

ServiceDesk Plus (8.1) is available immediately. A free, 30-day, fully functional trial edition is available at The CMDB, Service Catalog and Change Module are available immediately as add-ons to the ServiceDesk Plus Professional Edition. The CMDB is $995. The Service Catalog is $995. The Change Module is $1,995. For additional pricing information, visit

For more information on ManageEngine, please visit; follow the company blog at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @ManageEngine.

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About ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus integrates help desk requests and assets for managing organizations' IT effectively. It helps to implement ITIL best practices and troubleshoot IT service requests faster. ServiceDesk Plus is highly customizable, easy-to-implement help desk software. More than 10,000 IT managers worldwide use ServiceDesk Plus to manage their IT help desk and assets. ServiceDesk Plus is available in 23 different languages. For more information about ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus, visit

About ManageEngine

ManageEngine delivers the real-time IT management tools that empower an IT team to meet an organization's need for real-time services and support. Worldwide, more than 55,000 established and emerging enterprises — including more than 60 percent of the Fortune 500 — rely on ManageEngine products to ensure the optimal performance of their critical IT infrastructure, including networks, servers, applications, desktops and more. ManageEngine is a division of Zoho Corp. with offices worldwide, including the United States, United Kingdom, India, Japan and China. For more information, please visit; follow the company blog at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @ManageEngine
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