Sync your way to BYOD


When formulating a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy, an often-missed step is reviewing your existing enterprise infrastructure for solutions before branching out.

One important technology to examine is enterprise synchronization. While more commonly thought of as a tool for keeping servers in synchronization, support for BYOD and mobile devices in general is starting to happen.

Alfresco is best known as a secure enterprise file management solution. The company recently released Alfresco Mobile, and I had a chance to speak with Marc Dubresson, who heads up its mobile initiatives. My experience with Alfresco up to that point was with synchronization of massive document libraries, so I had a hard time envisioning them in terms of BYOD. Dubresson told me, however, that Alfresco is building upon its open-source and business workflow foundations to make Alfresco Mobile into a “BYOD enabler.”

Alfresco’s intent is to provide tools for organizations to customize their own solutions. Dubresson pointed out that while Alfresco and Alfresco Mobile can be run out of the box, a segment of its customers use it to build their own custom solutions. Alfresco Mobile is certainly going to find a home in Alfresco shops with BYOD users, but the company is also opening itself up to new customers.

Peer Software, a provider of data management solutions, is beginning to see its customers look to enterprise syncing solutions to support BYOD as well. Claus Schroeder, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, explained why enterprise-syncing solutions and mobile users mesh. “It seems like a lot of sync-related solutions are just adaptations of traditional backup software originally conceived where most or all users were in a headquarters or branch office with good quality network connections to the backup server,” he told me in an interview. He emphasized that enterprise syncing solutions excel with mobile workers who can be located just about anywhere in the world, connected in different ways, each with differing levels of performance.

Schroeder also noted that mobile users require a combination of real-time and push synchronization because they have different connectivity states, including:

  • On net when in the corporate office
  • Off net but connected remotely when at home or in a hotel
  • Temporarily disconnected when working while on a flight, in a car, or at a job site

Schroeder defined enterprise syncing by saying:

As soon as the laptop is connected it can also collect data which was deposited for it on the central storage server. The ability to define several jobs makes it easy to centrally control the pre-loading of data onto a new laptop or to distribute new files/directories to a group of mobile users.

His description includes horsepower that traditional mobile devices and syncing solutions may not have.

“With mobile users, bandwidth utilization must be as efficient as possible,” Schroeder added. Peer Software’s products use byte-level replication, which only syncs part of the changed file over the wire. It also incorporates bandwidth throttling to manage the percentage of bandwidth used, along with blackout schedules for avoiding peak periods, and the ability to detect if a cellular model is roaming and could rack up high expenses. This type of intelligence is seen in enterprise syncing solutions, rather than traditional syncing solutions.

Alfresco and Peer Software show how traditional enterprise solutions are being extended to mobile users and the ample reasons why a mobile file syncing solution for BYOD users may already be in-house.

This post previously appeared on The Mobility Hub on February 20, 2013.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

Image by Luke Chesser via Unsplash.com

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