Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Mehdi Daoudi, Flint Brenton, Gordon Haff

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.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
For over a decade, Application Programming Interface or APIs have been used to exchange data between multiple platforms. From social media to news and media sites, most websites depend on APIs to provide a dynamic and real-time digital experience. APIs have made its way into almost every device and service available today and it continues to spur innovations in every field of technology. There are multiple programming languages used to build and run applications in the online world. And just li...
The general concepts of DevOps have played a central role advancing the modern software delivery industry. With the library of DevOps best practices, tips and guides expanding quickly, it can be difficult to track down the best and most accurate resources and information. In order to help the software development community, and to further our own learning, we reached out to leading industry analysts and asked them about an increasingly popular tenet of a DevOps transformation: collaboration.
We call it DevOps but much of the time there’s a lot more discussion about the needs and concerns of developers than there is about other groups. There’s a focus on improved and less isolated developer workflows. There are many discussions around collaboration, continuous integration and delivery, issue tracking, source code control, code review, IDEs, and xPaaS – and all the tools that enable those things. Changes in developer practices may come up – such as developers taking ownership of code ...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Cloud Governance means many things to many people. Heck, just the word cloud means different things depending on who you are talking to. While definitions can vary, controlling access to cloud resources is invariably a central piece of any governance program. Enterprise cloud computing has transformed IT. Cloud computing decreases time-to-market, improves agility by allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing market demands, and, ultimately, drives down costs.
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
How is DevOps going within your organization? If you need some help measuring just how well it is going, we have prepared a list of some key DevOps metrics to track. These metrics can help you understand how your team is doing over time. The word DevOps means different things to different people. Some say it a culture and every vendor in the industry claims that their tools help with DevOps. Depending on how you define DevOps, some of these metrics may matter more or less to you and your team.
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Grape Up leverages Cloud Native technologies and helps companies build software using microservices, and work the DevOps agile way. We've been doing digital innovation for the last 12 years," explained Daniel Heckman, of Grape Up in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Outscale was founded in 2010, is based in France, is a strategic partner to Dassault Systémes and has done quite a bit of work with divisions of Dassault," explained Jackie Funk, Digital Marketing exec at Outscale, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
The enterprise data storage marketplace is poised to become a battlefield. No longer the quiet backwater of cloud computing services, the focus of this global transition is now going from compute to storage. An overview of recent storage market history is needed to understand why this transition is important. Before 2007 and the birth of the cloud computing market we are witnessing today, the on-premise model hosted in large local data centers dominated enterprise storage. Key marketplace play...
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
With continuous delivery (CD) almost always in the spotlight, continuous integration (CI) is often left out in the cold. Indeed, it's been in use for so long and so widely, we often take the model for granted. So what is CI and how can you make the most of it? This blog is intended to answer those questions. Before we step into examining CI, we need to look back. Software developers often work in small teams and modularity, and need to integrate their changes with the rest of the project code b...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...