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Enterprise Applications Mobility Layer, Microsoft Office 365, Mobile First, Mobile Security, Tech Trends, User Adoption

Microsoft Office 365 – Friend or Foe?

Is Microsoft’s Office 365* mobile ready? 

David MonksI’ve been a user of spreadsheets since the dawn of time. Well, actually since Dan Bricklin first launched Visicalc for the Apple back in 1979!  I have dealt with the major repercussions of a change in approach as this was replaced by Supercalc in 1980.

In 1983, Lotus 1-2-3, a forerunner to Lotus, was launched by Mitch Kapor, an acquaintance of mine from his days in Business & Professional Software.  Finally, the seismic arrival of Microsoft Excel in 1987.

I’m sure there were some esoteric alternatives (such as OpenCalc and who remembers Microsoft’s Multiplan?) in between which I’ve forgotten about.  However, short of upgrades, there’s been little new on this front for the last nearly 30 years!

Microsoft’s latest initiative

All of this is a long winded preamble to my comments regarding the very latest initiative by Microsoft in this area with Office 365 (now we’ve fast forwarded to 2013)! For those of you who’ve been living in the depths of the Amazonian rain forest for the past years this is the flagship solution upon which Microsoft are pinning their hopes to be seen in future as a mobile-first, cloud-based provider of core enterprise capability.

Is Office 365 really mobile-ready?

Whilst I agree that Microsoft Office 365 is a really good cloud based solution, I’m not so sure that it is mobile-ready!

In the current climate there is an ever increasing clamor of staff, in organizations both large and small, to be allowed to have access to even the most sensitive of corporate data and applications on their mobile devices.

How comfortable are you with the prospect of staff being able to move data from your secure datacenters to their inherently insecure tablets?

How safe are you?

How many of you appreciate the potential cost to the company of a significant data breach or an action under the Data Protection legislation for the invalid movement of data to a location proscribed by the self same legislation.  How many users today are aware that moving data from say Germany to their iPad on a business trip to the US constitutes a potential legal threat?

Equally concerning is that even within the borders of the Data Protection legislation the very act of storing data on a device, which could then be lost or stolen, opens the door to a wide variety of unpleasant consequences.

The issue with Office 365

Fully secure your Mobile Enterprise Applications

So why is this an issue with Office 365 when it isn’t with Office?

The answer I feel lies in the sheer simplicity with which a user can access even the most critical of data from their company’s servers (given the right to do so) and then pull this down to their device.

It is this ease of use which is causing IT Security teams to be forced to consider ways in which they can restrict users from this very straightforward process through the introduction of mobile device management approaches which require the creation of complex processes and rules to ensure that data at rest on the device is held securely with containers etc. etc.

How to make Office 365 secure? – one approach

Looking at a recent report published by one MDM vendor I was surprised at the lengths they were suggesting organizations needed to go to in order to ensure that Office 365 can be used as securely as it’s deskbound cousin!

With the need to:-

  • Define operating system containerization controls to protect data on the device, such as:-
    • Data separation
    • Open In restrictions
    • Selective wipe
  • Enforce extra levels of authentication to prevent Office 365 being accessed from compromised devices.
  • Provide secondary encryption to cover data written locally to media.

It is small wonder that many IT departments are struggling to come to terms with the rapid rise in demand for BYOD access to Office 365 and other enterprise systems.

Just think of all the extra effort, time delay and cost involved in having to consider all of these issues irrespective of the cost of implementing the MDM solution and you have valid reasons for doubting whether Office 365 is such a boon after all!

An even better approach!

Luckily there is a better way to use your Office 365 setup (and all of your other enterprise applications as well) with mobile devices and that is to use the recently defined Enterprise Applications Mobility Layer (EnAML) Standard approach to mobilizing such software.

The advantages of the Enterprise Applications Mobility Layer (EnAML) Standard

  • a totally different approach
  • uses the existing corporate structures to determine access rights and levels for users
  • does not require any MDM structures to be in place (although it will work with any that already exist)
  • leaves the organization fully data secure as NO data is ever stored on the remote mobile device
  • ALL amendments, additions, deletions etc. occur centrally on the organization’s servers
  • Full functionality of underlying applications coupled with using attributes of mobile device!

An EnAML Standard solution such as 2Go will go a long way to ensuring that Microsoft’s vision for Excel 365  – that it will become the ubiquitous replacement spreadsheet of choice. You can try it for yourself here.

2Go enables Voice Dictation for any enterprise application

So what’s next?

If only I could dictate my formulae directly into Excel (or Excel 365) rather than my very slow ‘hunt and peck’ style of typing – that would be REAL progress!

Well take a look at 2Go it does that too!

 

 

* “Office 365” refers to subscription plans that include access to Office applications plus other productivity services that are enabled over the Internet (cloud services). Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of the latest Office applications, which users can install across multiple computers and devices. The fully installed applications include: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. (Publisher and Access are available on PC only.) And you can install them across multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, Android tablets, Android phones, iPad, and iPhone. Text from https://products.office.com/en-gb/business/microsoft-office-365-frequently-asked-questions.


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David Monks

Responsible for the day-to-day operations at iNovar for everything other than product development. David has more than 40 years of experience in the IT industry, founding multiple companies over the years. David's current focus is to scale 2Go through partnerships with System Integrators and Consultants.

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