After talking with many of our customers and our fabulous IT staff, one thing stood out: Days can go from good to bad at the drop of the hat. We decided to take a comical look at that with the below cartoon to show how an IT team member’s day can go off the rails when it starts with a file transfer question and you don’t have the proper tools to quickly address or solve it.

Let us know what you think and if you have an idea that we can turn into a cartoon.

DayintheLife_Final

At a recent CIOboston event by CIOsynergy, I met two folks from Apprenda: Chris Gaun, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Dave Cohn who heads Northeast Sales for the company.  Apprenda is a ‘Private Platform as a Service’ company that sponsored the event with Microsoft. Both made the remark that IT needs to transition from being a cost center to being a profit center and do so by developing more customer-facing software for the business.

An intriguing concept and one that got the conversation flowing between the three of us and Al Ingram, Director of Operations in my IT department. And it got me thinking.  At Ipswitch, IT worked with R&D on our Licensing System within our products to communicate with an IT-created back-end for product fulfillment and activation. That project certainly would fit the bill. We also manage ecommerce. Plus, as one of the leaders in Salesforce implementation, we have developed many tools and processes that could be shared/sold in the Salesforce ecosystem. sd

But I think this view of IT and what is needed is too narrow. Traditional P&L models, with their roots in manufacturing, assign IT as a cost center. But the way out is to question whether the model needs to be updated, rather than insist that IT produce traditional products that can be sold to customers. There is a value-add to the business from today’s IT that goes beyond viewing it as a sequence of projects or as simply ‘support’ resources. There is sustained return for the business, beyond just the savings that IT may have delivered vs. doing a project using more expensive outside consultants.

Measuring the Impact IT has on Business ROI

Business ROI must have an associated IT fraction that indicates long term value that IT created – it is a shared benefit. I am not suggesting that modeling IT as a profit center will be easy.  Certainly, measuring just IT’s contribution to business productivity has been fraught with difficulty and controversy. But at a time when most IT departments can feel in their bones that they are making a difference to the business and every project is tagged as a business project rather than an IT project (as in the old days) we need these new models to evolve. Such measurement will lead to better valuation of IT: better funding, greater confidence by the business in IT spend, and expanded use of IT as a vital business leader.

CLOUDAt a recent CIOboston event by CIOsynergy, I met two folks from Apprenda: Chris Gaun, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Dave Cohn who heads Northeast Sales for the company.  Apprenda is a ‘Private Platform as a Service’ company that sponsored the event with Microsoft. Both made the remark that IT needs to transition from being a cost center to being a profit center and do so by developing more customer-facing software for the business.

An intriguing concept and one that got the conversation flowing between the three of us and Al Ingram, Director of Operations in my IT department. And it got me thinking.  At Ipswitch, IT worked with R&D on our Licensing System within our products to communicate with an IT-created back-end for product fulfillment and activation. That project certainly would fit the bill. We also manage ecommerce. Plus, as one of the leaders in Salesforce implementation, we have developed many tools and processes that could be shared/sold in the Salesforce ecosystem.

But I think this view of IT and what is needed is too narrow. Traditional P&L models, with their roots in manufacturing, assign IT as a cost center. But the way out is to question whether the model needs to be updated, rather than insist that IT produce traditional products that can be sold to customers. There is a value-add to the business from today’s IT that goes beyond viewing it as a sequence of projects or as simply ‘support’ resources. There is sustained return for the business, beyond just the savings that IT may have delivered vs. doing a project using more expensive outside consultants.

Measuring the Impact IT has on Business ROI

Business ROI must have an associated IT fraction that indicates long term value that IT created – it is a shared benefit. I am not suggesting that modeling IT as a profit center will be easy.  Certainly, measuring just IT’s contribution to business productivity has been fraught with difficulty and controversy. But at a time when most IT departments can feel in their bones that they are making a difference to the business and every project is tagged as a business project rather than an IT project (as in the old days) we need these new models to evolve. Such measurement will lead to better valuation of IT: better funding, greater confidence by the business in IT spend, and expanded use of IT as a vital business leader.

emr

Of course, in order to understand the challenges (and solutions) of healthcare file transfer, there are a few essential terms that you’ll need to know. Let’s take a closer look at a few in particular:

  • HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  This act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health plans and employers. Specifically, this act was put in place to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. In many ways, HIPAA compliance is the number one file transfer priority for those in the healthcare space.
  • BAA – Business Associate Agreement. This document is essentially a promise that the people hired to handle the sensitive healthcare information are adhering to the same confidentiality agreement that the healthcare providers observe.
  • HIE – Health Information Exchanges. This system provides the capability to mobilize information electronically, across a designated region or healthcare information system.  The HIE is designed to provide a more timely, efficient and effective patient-care system.
  • HIO – Health Information Organization. An organization that brings together health care stakeholders within a defined geographical area. This group then exchanges health information among themselves, for the purpose of improving the health and care within that region.
  • HITECH – Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health. An act that promotes the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. In other words, facilitating healthcare providers with the technology in order to use electronic health records. This would allow physicians to provide better care to their patients because the health records would be undamaged and easily accessible.
  • PHI (ePHI) – Protected Health Information (electronic). This individually identifiable information relates to past, present and future physical or mental health conditions of an individual.
  • EMR – Electronic Medical Record. This record contains both the medical and treatment history of a patient in a given facility, for one practice. This record stays within said facility and is not easily accessed by any additional doctors who may also be treating the patient.
  • EHR – Electronic Health Record. This report focuses on the total health of an individual. It recaps a patient’s history in every facility, for every practice, that the patient has used.  Think of the EHR as combining the information from every individual EMR that the patient may have, and placing it into one, central location.
  • Managed File Transfer (MFT) – While EHR is the central location for patient data to reside, MFT systems provide a complimentary central system to manage the transfer of files & data (including sensitive and confidential patient information) to/from the healthcare organization to its extended ecosystem of partners, suppliers and payers. This includes integrating with other systems and vendors with multiple configurations and access controls. MFT systems are a key cog in enabling a healthcare organization with file transfer automation and auditing to support HIPAA compliance.
  • Unstructured Data – Also known as the “patient narrative,” unstructured data is text-heavy information that may be unorganized, have irregularities or be ambiguous. This type of information would require the “human touch” to read, capture and interpret properly.  Most of the information that would be needed to make a decision about a patient can be found here.  This data is also difficult to standardized, difficult for a healthcare provider to gain access to, and difficult to share between dissimilar computer systems.
  • EDI – Electronic Data Interchange. This electronic communications system provides a means for exchanging data. This interchange facilitates the exchange of information from one computer to another with zero human intervention.
  • Omnibus Rule – A rule that was put in place to implement statutory amendments under the HITECH Act. Some of the effects that this rule had were: strengthening the privacy and security protection for individuals’ PHI, modified HIPAA Privacy Rule to strengthen the privacy protections for genetic information, and set new limits for how information is used and disclosed for marketing and fundraising purposes. Basically, the Omnibus Rule set further requirements for holding all custodians of PHI the same security and privacy rule of covered entities under HIPAA.

The list goes on. If you’re looking for a way to simplify the file transfer process within your organization, be sure to check out some of our healthcare case studies or this resource page. If there are any other terms that you would like to be explained, please be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

Cloud SecurityRecent news from Intralinks is just the latest where the security of Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) vendors, like Box and Dropbox, are questioned. The EFSS rival reports that that generating links to share documents can put sensitive data at risk through several basic flaws. Once a link is generated to only be accessible by trusted sources, it turns out that it can actually be viewed by third parties (aka not the people you want accessing it). Intralinks said they discovered the vulnerability as part of Google AdWords research.

 While the companies are scrambling to address the issue and patch the flaw (at time of publishing Dropbox had issued a fix), it presents the opportunity to once again distinguish EFSS from Managed File Transfer. We spend a lot of time talking about this with customers and prospective clients and recently developed a White Paper and blog post on the topic. Check them out and let us know what you think.

AgileHow It’s Made is a popular TV show here in the States, where the viewer gets a behind-the-scenes look at how the products they use on an everyday basis are created. Sometimes it’s an episode on yellow mustard, other times it’s toothpicks and sporks, but almost every time it’s a mainstream consumer product.

Since the show’s creators are not going to air an episode on how MOVEit is made (we tried, no luck), I thought I would do the next best thing: Give you a quick look into how our file transfer products are created – and it starts and ends with the Agile methodology Scrum.

For those unfamiliar with the approach, Scrum is commonly defined as “a software development framework  based on iterative development and incremental delivery, where requirements and solutions evolve through close collaboration on self-organizing, cross-functional teams.”

In other words, Scrum is a process that adapts to change – changes in scope, in requirements, in deadlines. Hence the name, Scrum (adapted from the sport of Rugby where teams operate in very close contact.)

Those of us here at Ipswitch are strong proponents of Scrum. It provides transparency around the day-to-day activities. It accelerates the development process but not at the expense of quality. It helps us move quickly. But there is another reason why we’re such big fans of Scrum, and it’s not a reason you hear very often…

For us, this approach facilitates an egalitarian approach to software development. So often within software companies, the path of product development is done through a top-down approach, where orders are given by senior members and executed by junior members. Not so at Ipswitch. Rather, our Scrum adoption gives everyone – regardless of title or experience level – an equal say as to how the product is to evolve. Everyone has a voice, in other words (though there are occasional overriding votes as you might expect).

Great ideas can come from everywhere, something every Scrum team can attest. By eliminating the usual hierarchy and command and control culture, we’re able to receive new ideas and insights from our entire team, from the CTO to the QA engineer and everyone in between.

The result? Industry leading file transfer products from Ipswitch. Scrum has played a part in the production of every product – from WS FTP Server to MOVEit. Moreover, it played a part of each new version, as well as products that have yet to be released!

The purpose of this post was two-fold. On the one hand, we wanted to explain why we’re such strong proponents of Scrum, which hopefully we’ve done. The second purpose was to attract like-minded developers and QA engineers. So if you’re interested in this egalitarian approach to software development – if you want to contribute more to a project than just your coding and testing skills – then we’d love to hear from you. Take a look at our current list of career opportunities.

I recently attended CIOboston, a CIOsynergy event headlined as “A New Dimension to Problem Solving Within the Office of the CIO”. We talked about paradigm shifts propelled by technologies like the cloud, the necessary new engagement models for business and IT and the changing world of expectations to name a few topics. But before getting to all this, our moderator Ty Harmon of 2THEEDGE posed the simple question to the attending 50 or so CIOs and senior IT heads: “What are your challenges?” ww

Here are the answers that I have assembled. I think there is value in seeing what was/is top of mind for IT leaders in raw form:

  • How do we make the right choices between capital and expense?  Service offerings are growing and additive – the spend never ends.
  • How do we integrate multiple cloud vendors to provide business value?
  • User expectations are being set by the likes of Google and Amazon for great UX, 7X24 support, etc. – but it is my IT staff that is expected to deliver all that on our budget. The business does not want to see the price tag – but they want the same experience that is available at home from these giants.
  • IT needs to run like a business but this takes a lot of doing. It matters how we talk and collaborate. We have to deliver business results that must be measurable.
  • Adoption of the cloud is a challenge. How do we assess what is out there? It is not easy to do apples-to-apples comparisons and security is a big concern.
  • How do we go from private to public cloud? Current skill sets are limited.
  • We are constrained by vendors that are not keeping up with the new technologies! One piece of critical software may want an earlier version of Internet Explorer to run; another may use an obsolete version of SQL Server, etc. This clutter prevents IT departments from moving forward.
  • Business complexity is a challenge. IT is asked to automate – but we must push back to first simplify business processes.
  • “Shadow IT” is an issue. A part of the business goes for a “shiny object” rather than focusing on what is the problem that really needs to be solved. They do so without involving IT. Then IT is expected to step in and make it all work, integrate with other software and support it.
  • Proving ROI is a challenge.
  • Balancing performance, scalability and security is tough.
  • How do you choose old vs. new, flexibility vs. security? It isn’t easy.
  • How do we support more and more devices?
  • How do you fill security holes that are in the cloud?
  • How do you manage user expectations, find the balance for supporting them when you have limited resources.
  • Many heads nodded as these challenges were spoken of.  But all agreed that these are exciting times and IT will push forward through them and be recognized as the true business enabler that it is. What are your thoughts—were you nodding your head at these questions?

ChallengesI recently attended CIOboston, a CIOsynergy event headlined as “A New Dimension to Problem Solving Within the Office of the CIO”. We talked about paradigm shifts propelled by technologies like the cloud, the necessary new engagement models for business and IT and the changing world of expectations to name a few topics. But before getting to all this, our moderator Ty Harmon of 2THEEDGE posed the simple question to the attending 50 or so CIOs and senior IT heads: “What are your challenges?”

Here are the answers that I have assembled. I think there is value in seeing what was/is top of mind for IT leaders in raw form:

  • How do we make the right choices between capital and expense?  Service offerings are growing and additive – the spend never ends.
  • How do we integrate multiple cloud vendors to provide business value?
  • User expectations are being set by the likes of Google and Amazon for great UX, 7X24 support, etc. – but it is my IT staff that is expected to deliver all that on our budget. The business does not want to see the price tag – but they want the same experience that is available at home from these giants.
  • IT needs to run like a business but this takes a lot of doing. It matters how we talk and collaborate. We have to deliver business results that must be measurable.
  • Adoption of the cloud is a challenge. How do we assess what is out there? It is not easy to do apples-to-apples comparisons and security is a big concern.
  • How do we go from private to public cloud? Current skill sets are limited.
  • We are constrained by vendors that are not keeping up with the new technologies! One piece of critical software may want an earlier version of Internet Explorer to run; another may use an obsolete version of SQL Server, etc. This clutter prevents IT departments from moving forward.
  • Business complexity is a challenge. IT is asked to automate – but we must push back to first simplify business processes.
  • “Shadow IT” is an issue. A part of the business goes for a “shiny object” rather than focusing on what is the problem that really needs to be solved. They do so without involving IT. Then IT is expected to step in and make it all work, integrate with other software and support it.
  • Proving ROI is a challenge.
  • Balancing performance, scalability and security is tough.
  • How do you choose old vs. new, flexibility vs. security? It isn’t easy.
  • How do we support more and more devices?
  • How do you fill security holes that are in the cloud?
  • How do you manage user expectations, find the balance for supporting them when you have limited resources.

Many heads nodded as these challenges were spoken of.  But all agreed that these are exciting times and IT will push forward through them and be recognized as the true business enabler that it is. What are your thoughts—were you nodding your head at these questions?

Today we announced the results of our BYOD on Campus survey taken by 313 students at colleges and universities around the U.S. The survey highlights the disconnect that exists on college campuses between students and IT professionals who work hard to keep up with Wi-Fi demand. Students often blame the network for slowdowns while doing their homework. In fact, the source of their frustration can be their fellow classmates who are watching shows on Netflix or listening to their favorite music on Spotify. Survey highlights included:

BYOD on Campus
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

BYOD is BMOC

  • More than two-thirds (67 percent) of students have between 2 – 4 devices connected to their campus networks at any given time.
  • Laptops (86 percent) were the most popular wireless device on campus, followed by mobile phones (77 percent) and tablets (30 percent).

Most students don’t get the “D” in BYOD

  • Nearly three-fourths of all students polled (73 percent) did not know what the “D” stood for in BYOD.
  • More than one-third thought the “D” in BYOD stood for “dinner” while one-third thought it meant “date”.
  • One out of five students (27 percent) correctly identified the term.

Concerns about Wi-Fi and awareness of BYOD policy

  • The top concern registered by students regarding their campus Wi-Fi networks was slow connection time (63 percent), followed by accessibility issues (50 percent) and security (36 percent).
  • Only approximately one in five students (23 percent) surveyed were aware of a campus-wide BYOD policy.

Homework vs. home entertainment

  • The vast majority of students polled use their wireless devices for coursework (94 percent), with more than half (60 percent) spending 1 – 3 hours day doing so.
  • Only one-third of all students polled (33 percent) spend 1 – 3 hours a day doing homework via their wireless devices. Half (51 percent) spend the same amount of time chatting, texting or entertaining themselves.
  • More than three-fifths (63 percent) of students polled spend 1 – 4 hours a day streaming media using services like Spotify, Netflix and YouTube.
  • More than one-third (35 percent) of students indicated that they spend an average of 1 – 2 hours a day streaming media over their campus wireless networks. While 28 percent of them admitted to spending 2 – 4 hours a day doing so.

A high volume of online activity can lead to spikes in network traffic especially during popular events like the recent March Madness basketball tournament. IT professionals can mitigate the resulting problems with network monitoring technology that identifies not only the exact source, but also the people who are hogging wireless bandwidth.