BYOD-ready mobile SharePoint with Azurati SharePoint2Go

Video demonstration of Azurati SharePoint2Go, a secure HTML5 cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution.

Contact Azurati via http://www.azurati.com for more information about how you can deploy mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

New year; new enhancements for Azurati’s enterprise mobility solutions

The development team at Azurati would even have impressed Santa’s Elves this Holiday season with the raft of new exciting innovations and enhancements that they have managed to roll-out to support our secure, cross-platform mobile enterprise proposition.

Today, we are excited to announce a number of new innovations that have not previously been available to any enterprise mobile users, which we hope will boost the adoption of HTML5-based mobile applications in the enterprise:

Azurati Mobile Portal
The Azurati Mobile Portal provides a new way for enterprise users to access HTML5-based mobile applications securely from any mobile device.  With the Azurati Mobile Portal, enterprise users are able to authenticate themselves once and then use the Mobile Portal interface as an HTML5 mobile application launchpad, enabling mobile apps to be launched with secure single sign-on.

Azurati Mobile Portal for HTML5 mobile applications

The Azurati Mobile Portal is great for both IT and the mobile user community because it provides a secure environment to access HTML5 mobile applications that can be centrally controlled (without needing expensive Mobile Device Management solutions).

HTML5 mobile applications are published to the Azurati Mobile Portal via the Azurati ASAP mobile application platform.

Azurati Apps
Azurati Apps are HTML5 applications that can be developed as cross-platform mobile applications from the ground-up, or as cross-platform mobile versions of existing enterprise software applications.

What’s more, for the first time, Microsoft SharePoint users who frequently access custom developed Web Parts in SharePoint, can create specific full-screen mobile applications from Web Parts that can be accessed via the Azurati Mobile Portal.  Examples of these may be Staff Contact lists, Product data lists, Company news and discussions, etc.

Azurati Apps

Azurati Apps can be developed to support Dynamic Offline access so that mobile users can continue to work and be productive even when Internet connectivity is lost.

Enhancements to Azurati V-Parts in SharePoint2Go
Azurati has made a number of enhancements to our V-Part architecture that now makes it easier than ever to convert custom developed SharePoint Web Parts and access them via Azurati’s cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, SharePoint2Go.

If you find that the true value in SharePoint is not in its out-of-the-box feature set, but in the custom developed Web Parts and SharePoint apps (like Staff contact lists, project task lists, company news, BI reports, sales pipeline data, etc.), then for the first time, you will be able to continue to use these functions

Live editing of documents from SharePoint2Go
A common request from Azurati customers was the ability to edit documents from SharePoint2Go.  Up until now, this has been technically complex because of the fact that SharePoint2Go is a mobile web application.  However, we are pleased to announce a new capability that will allow live editing of documents from SharePoint2Go using Microsoft Office Web Apps on iPads.

The following screenshots show how this works (click images to view enlarged view):

1. Select document from library

Azurati doc live edit 1

2. Select Edit Document

Azurati doc live edit 2

3. Edit document in Microsoft Web Apps (this requires a valid user licence for Office Web Apps)

Azurati doc live edit 4 4. Save document

azurati doc live edit 5 5. Document edits are saved back to SharePoint2Go

azurati doc live edit 6

SharePoint2Go On-Premise deployments
We are pleased to announce also, that we are now able to offer On-Premise deployments of SharePoint2Go in addition to our standard Microsoft Azure Cloud option.  Enterprise customers who feel that they are unable to make use of Cloud-based services may install the Azurati SharePoint2Go server on internal servers behind the corporate firewall.

More information about Azurati
If you are considering HTML5-based mobile applications as part of your enterprise mobility strategy or if you would like to understand more about any of these announcements and Azurati’s HTML5 enterprise mobility solutions, please contact us via www.azurati.com.

So, was Facebook wrong about HTML5?

When Mark Zuckerberg publicly dumped HTML5 earlier in 2012, saying that ‘it was not ready’, many in the mobile applications development community sighed in disappointment and frustration; including the folks at Sencha, a mobile development platform provider for HTML5 developers.

So, Sencha decided to prove Facebook wrong by building their own replica HTML5 mobile web version of Facebook, called Fastbook that goes to show that it was not HTML5 per se that had previously caused Facebook’s mobile app speed and response times, but probably more to do with how Facebook had originally used HTML5 in their generation 1 mobile application.

fastbook-hero

“When a team has problems with HTML5, it usually stems from the fact that they take a “website” development approach to building an app, and often don’t use the right tools and architectures for application development. This is what we suspected about the Facebook HTML5 app”, says Jamie Avins of Sencha.

Fastbook is accessed via the mobile device’s browser and is truly impressive.  IOS users can save an application icon/badge to their iPhone/iPad homescreen, so it appears just like other native mobile applications.  It is fast and includes all of the key features of the original Facebook mobile application, but now instantly accessible on all mobile devices and platforms.

Try it for yourself by going to http://fb.html5isready.com/ on your mobile device.

FastBook is a great Showcase of the capabilities of HTML5, showing that you can develop fast, feature-rich mobile applications that will work on a single code-base across different mobile platforms.

HTML5 mobile applications in the enterprise
In the enterprise space, Azurati has been promoting the adoption of HTML5 mobile web applications for some time.  HTML5 applications should be considered by CIOs as a viable alternative to native mobile applications, for certain types of enterprise mobile applications.  For a start, mobile web applications do not require expensive Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

However HTML5 web applications that require user authentication in the enterprise space suffer from a common issue and that is that the user either needs to bookmark the mobile app (like a website), or the user needs to remember the URL of the mobile app – if using a non-IOS device.  Azurati has come up with a unique solution to this that we call the Azurati Mobile Portal.

Azurati Mobile Portal for HTML5 mobile applications

Azurati users are able to access enterprise HTML5 mobile web applications securely and conveniently from a single mobile portal interface.  Users authenticate themselves once and can then open verified mobile applications from the Mobile Portal with Single Sign-On, providing a more secure solution for IT and a better user experience for the end user.

For further information on how to use development tools like Sencha Touch to publish HTML5 applications to the Azurati Mobile Portal, visit www.Azurati.com.

How inclusive is your BYOD policy?

When companies say that they are going to implement a Bring your own device (BYOD) policy, allowing employees to use their own personal devices (smartphones, tables and even laptops in some cases); what do they actually mean?

What exactly is covered in your BYOD policy, and what is not?  For instance, do you say that you support BYOD, but then exclude certain devices; and what do you expect your staff to be doing on their personal devices when they are using them for work purposes?

Sometimes it can be seen to be an easy and logical decision to declare an all-out Bring Your Own Device policy.  After all, your staff will undoubtedly thank you for allowing them to use their (usually) newer and higher-spec devices and your Finance department will laud your capital expenditure cost-cutting prowess; but if you suspect that your users will want to use their smartphones and tablets for more than checking email and making voice calls (on phones), then there are clearly a raft of additional factors to consider.

Let’s take these points one by one.

What do you mean by BYOD?
If BYOD means for you that an employee can bring any personal device in to the workplace and use it for business purposes, then great.  However, that is not the interpretation that many companies actually have.  What they really mean is you can bring your iPhone/iPad, and Android device, and possibly a Blackberry device; but probably not devices like Microsoft Surface RT tablets, Windows Phone devices, Google Chromebooks, Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets, Apple MacBooks, etc.?  The truth is that many BYOD regimes are not all-inclusive and companies are compelled to exclude certain devices because enterprise mobile strategies are not always aligned with BYOD policies, meaning that mobile apps and management infrastructures are often not able to cope with BYOD.

Why should you not be able to allow any device in the workplace?  I hear you say.  These devices all use operating systems that support internet browsing and local applications and if you are embracing the concept of Consumerisation of IT, then it would be entirely logical to allow an employee to use their latest Christmas present gadget in the workplace.   A true BYOD policy should be all inclusive and IT should allow users to bring any connected device in to the workplace and expect to be able to work securely on it for work purposes.

For those of you who do want to embrace the principle of BYOD, but who are struggling with being able to execute an effective an non-restrictive policy, perhaps you should look more widely at your company’s goals and strategies for embracing mobile devices and solutions; which brings us on to the next point.

What will employees be expected to do with their personal device in a work context?
If you expect your staff to do more than use smartphones for voice calls and to pick up corporate email, then you will almost certainly want them to be able to work productively when working on a smartphone or tablet.  One of the on-going debates about mobile applications for enterprise users is whether BYOD also goes as far as Bring your own Apps.

There will undoubtedly be some apps, like Office productivity tools or web conferencing that make little impact on corporate IT security policies, but if mobile users need to have mobile access to secure enterprise systems, that is another issue.

Authentication and security are major issues to get a handle on if mobile users are expected to access corporate systems across the firewall.  So too is the state of readiness of corporate applications for mobile use.  Enterprise applications like Microsoft SharePoint, for instance, have woefully poor mobile user interfaces as standard.

Corporate IT departments need to think about how mobile users can gain secure access to enterprise systems, content and data

Should you consider a native application or HTML5 mobile app strategy?
This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions and the answer will depend on the type of mobile enterprise application, who the intended users are likely to be and what devices they are likely to use.

As the table below shows, the best way to guarantee that your enterprise mobile applications will be compatible with your BYOD policy will be to implement mobile web applications; but in reality, native mobile applications will continue to be used for certain types of applications and target user groups:

Pros Cons
Native mobile Apps
  • Rich functionality
  • Offline access (for some apps)
  • Good for apps designed for individual users or work-groups
  • Difficult to deploy across the enterprise
  • Ensuring apps are correctly updated can cause governance issues
  • App developer may not support all mobile platforms, which may limit your ability to implement BYOD
  • Some apps may cache or save content and data on the mobile device, which should be reviewed alongside your mobile security policy
HTML5 Mobile Web Apps
  • True cross-platform mobile device compatibility
  • Feature-parity of app functionality across mobile platforms
  • Instant deployment of mobile apps and solutions to users
  • Updates for cloud-based services are applied instantly to all users
  • Potential for zero-footprint (no content or data left on the device)
  • New generation of HTML5 apps can support offline working
  • Good for mobile apps that will be used by large numbers of users
  • Users generally require an internet connection to use apps
  • Apps are accessed via the mobile device’s browser
  • Apps may not be able to take advantage of device functionality, although newer generation mobile web apps are able to do so
  • Speed and response times may be slower if accessing app over a poor connection

The newest generation of mobile web applications can behave just like native apps.  They are accessed via home screen application badges/icons and, although they are accessed via the mobile’s browser, they look and behave almost exactly like their native mobile app cousins, but with all of the advantages of being a web based application, like cross-platform compatibility, strong security, and the central purchasing, deployment and updating of licences; without having to necessitate an investment in costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

How does Azurati support all-inclusive BYOD?
Being a leading HTML5 mobile enterprise application and mobile development platform vendor, Azurati fully supports and endorses all-inclusive BYOD programmes through its mobile enterprise applications and solutions:

1. SharePoint2Go® Secure cross-platform mobile Microsoft SharePoint, allowing mobile users to access SharePoint content, data and custom web parts on any mobile device
2. Azurati Mobile Portal™ Secure mobile container that acts as an application launch-pad for HTML5 apps that require authentication and enterprise-class security.
3. Azurati ASAP® HTML5 mobile enterprise application development platform for developing secure cross-platform mobile web applications.

For further information about Azurati, visit: www.azurati.com

COPE – Corporately owned personally enabled: the new wave in enterprise mobility

This article has been reproduced from Mobile Enterprise:

COPE – Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled

As the BYOD conversation begins to dwindle, the discussion will turn to the next wave in mobile trends: COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled). COPE gives both employers and employees the freedom of BYOD, while also offering a slew of benefits to each party.

Corporate Owned
The corporate owned (CO) portion of the COPE policy helps companies keep their networks and information secure, which has become one of the biggest backlashes of the traditional BYOD program in the workplace. CO means that the company still owns the line of service and selects its preferred device and usage cost thresholds for employees to consider.

This kind of ownership grants the company the right to wipe or disconnect devices on the corporate network, and ultimately offers pre-established security, just like the pre-BYOD days.

Personally Enabled
While 77% of BYOD employees dislike the use of MDM on their device, the personally enabled (PE) aspect of COPE allows employees to choose the company-approved device they prefer from a predetermined list, while also enabling them to use it both personally and professionally like with BYOD.

The first step in instituting COPE is for the company to select preferred devices based on what its wireless environment is suited to support. With this approach, a company can select, for example, a Blackberry 9300 at no additional cost. and

If an employee wants an iPhone, then the company only pays a predetermined amount (e.g. “cost threshold”). Employees then pay the remaining amount as outlined in the policy. This can also be implemented in a way that the company doesn’t offer any preferred device, but instead sets only a cost threshold for all users, no matter the device.

Usage costs operate similarly to cost thresholds for devices. Companies choose a predetermined amount they will pay toward usage fees, such as voice minutes, texting, data, multimedia or international plans. Whatever the company does not cover in its cost threshold for usage is the responsibility of the employee. By setting these limits, the company is able to control the outcome of each monthly bill without limiting an employee to a single device or plan.

Coping with COPE

Transitioning to this kind of program might seem like a headache, but MDM outsourcing helps IT departments seamlessly roll out COPE and maintain its features. In addition to working directly on this kind of program, MDM companies, can assist in adding more advanced features, troubleshooting, optimizing bills and handling administration.

Employee and employer benefits are plentiful. COPE doesn’t just offer the feel of a BYOD policy; it truly gives employees the opportunity to customize both their device selection and data plan with the help of their company’s IT budget.

These kinds of plans typically come with discounted offers, but it doesn’t stop there. Employees will also have the support system and help they need from their IT departments and MDM representatives, if companies choose to contract one.

Employers reap benefits all the same. Costs can be controlled and cut by pooling minutes, lowering costs per device, having manageable budgets and offering continual optimization. In some cases, giving employees the ability to customize their plans can ultimately result in productivity outside the office. With COPE, the employer also has control over things like carrier, device preference and MDM capabilities.

Azurati’s take on COPE

It does not matter what device the user is using, the key issue will be about how the user is able to connect to enterprise systems securely on mobile devices; and whether the enterprise system itself is optimized for mobile use.

If an enterprise has deployed Microsoft SharePoint, then Azurati’s SharePoint2Go® solution will provide secure access to mobile optimized SharePoint on any mobile device and without requiring MDM investments.

If employees are looking to access other core enterprise systems that are not optimized for mobile use, then Azurati ASAP® will shorten the development time to deliver secure cross-platform mobile enterprise applications.

visit www.azurati.com for more information.

Deploying Microsoft SharePoint securely on multiple mobile devices

Gartner talks about Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as being the ‘the most radical shift in client computing since the introduction of the PC’, which if they are right, will fundamentally affect almost every organization and how they provision IT services to employees.

Providing secure access to enterprise systems as part of an enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy may become a significant challenge to overcome for many organizations.  Rory Staunton at industry analysts Strategy Partners, declared during a keynote speech recently, that ‘every enterprise system, from CRM and ERP applications, through to intranets and custom line-of-business applications will be targets for mobile conversion’.

When you look at the most likely candidates for mobilization across the business, you would probably want to select those applications that reach and impact the most number of users and where the greatest return on mobile productivity would be.  Microsoft SharePoint would seem to be amongst the most obvious of candidates, since 69% of the 65,000 organizations who have deployed SharePoint, have deployed it enterprise-wide, according to Microsoft, and it typically is the place that employees go to collaborate with each other, access documents and content and to keep informed of company news and events.

So, what is stopping you from taking the plunge and providing access to SharePoint to your mobile users today?

Firstly, there may be the realization that employees who try to access corporate systems on mobile devices, are essentially the same as external users, as far as information security is concerned, and if you do not currently allow external access over your firewall to your internal systems, then this will probably be one of the key areas for you  to start your enterprise mobility and BYOD initiatives.

Secondly, for those who have examined the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint, you will come to understand that unless you undertake a significant amount of custom development work (which will need to be repeated for each mobile device), it is unlikely that your business users are going to find the standard mobile SharePoint templates an engaging and productive working experience.

There are a number of off-the-shelf mobile SharePoint solutions, like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution and others, and this will undoubtedly encourage you to start thinking about what kind of mobile experience you want to provide to your users.  On this issue, it is important to be clear about where you (the employer, rather than the employee) stand on the provision of mobile services that access enterprise systems.  It is one thing to allow personal devices, or corporately sanctioned devices to be used in the workplace, but this should not come at a cost to information security and control over user access and management.  This may dictate whether you decide to deploy Native Mobile Applications (that can be purchased by individual users from App Stores and market places) and Mobile Web Applications that can be purchased and deployed centrally and can be updated without having to rely on end users to do this manually from their mobile platform App Stores.

To many the perception is that Mobile Web Applications are not able to take advantage of value-adding mobile device functions or that they are not available in offline mode.  On this front, a new generation of Mobile Web Applications, of which SharePoint2Go is a good example, are showing that you can deploy lightweight web-based mobile solutions that behave like native applications and can be used in offline mode.

Azurati will be hosting a webinar on this topic on the 19th of September if you are interested in finding out more about what you should be looking out for before you consider trying to deploy SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy.

Webinar:  Deploying Microsoft SharePoint securely on multiple mobile platforms

When:  19 September 2012 (16:00 London/ 11:00 NY/ 08:00 LA)

Register:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/682161175

 

Would you like your SharePoint to go?

As the world becomes increasingly mobile and smart-phones and tablets are used to access enterprise systems, it is only natural that the new breed of travelling executives, sales and marketing professionals or field-based staff are going to expect access to corporate information systems that help them to remain productive, like Microsoft SharePoint, to be made accessible on their mobile device of choice.

The enterprise mobility challenges for CIOs are numerous, like:

  • How do you provide secure access to enterprise systems for mobile users (particularly when they are accessing on-premise systems like SharePoint across the corporate firewall)?
  • Are your enterprise systems mobile-ready and engaging for your mobile users?
  • Do you have a bring your own device (BYOD) or multi-platform corporate device policy?
  • Does your mobility solutions vendor support your policies on security, multi-device/platform, user experience, etc.?
  • How do you incorporate custom developed web parts and applications developed in standard SharePoint for mobile users?

One would naturally think that the standard mobile views provided with Microsoft SharePoint should suffice – but unfortunately (for you) they rarely do.  SharePoint’s standard mobile interface is designed for the lowest common denominator interface, resulting in a poor user experience that does not support finger navigation and productive mobile working, without significant manual development and customisation work – that will need to be done for each target mobile platform and device form-factor.  This does not of course, address the issue of providing secure access for mobile users who want to access their SharePoint environment outside the corporate firewall, which is not supported without having to licence additional firewall security products and systems.

Which of the following mobile SharePoint user interfaces would your mobile users find more engaging?

Solutions like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go, allow enterprise users to access Microsoft SharePoint securely on any smartphone or tablet device; while ensuring that mobile users can remain productive when they are on the road.

SharePoint2Go is a cloud-based enterprise mobility solution that provides multiple authentication options to allow corporate users to securely access any version of SharePoint on any mobile device, making it BYOD-compliant as standard.  Mobile security has been designed in to the DNA of SharePoint2Go with security features like smartcard/2-factor authentication, through to a zero footprint policy (meaning that no residual data or content is left on the device) and 256-bit encrypted access.  So, if your user’s are looking for SharePoint to go, make sure they use Azurati’s SharePoint2Go.

To find out more about SharePoint2Go and to request a demonstration or live trial, visit www.azurati.com.

If you are interested in joining other like-minded business and IT professionals who are interested in mobile working with Microsoft SharePoint, why not also join our LinkedIn Group, Mobile SharePoint.