How Dropbox revolutionized enterprise IT

Some of you might remember those early days of computer networking when coaxial cables were used to interconnect PCs and Novell Netware was the market leader for file sharing. Although new players appeared in this space with IBM LAN Server and Microsoft Windows NT, the basic concept of shared network drives did not change much.

The general concept is based on centralized file repositories. Management and especially access management is usually limited to administrative personnel and based on groups rather than on individual users. And, because of the centralized approach, users are required to be online to access files.

This was state of the art for almost 20 years.

As with anything that stays for a long time, requirements change and the centralized concept was unable to meet the new needs of the millennium generation. Mobile computing started to become more natural, the number and kinds of devices changed from static PCs to notebooks and nowadays tablets and mobile phones. Users are not only able to take administrative responsibilities, but they can even demand to manage their resources themselves.

Although some tried to enhance the existing software with all kinds of add-ons (offline folders) and workarounds to help support the new requirements, the outcome was not really satisfying.

Dropbox was and still is so successful because it fulfills those new needs!

The paradigm switched from a centralized file store to a distributed, replicated file repository with easy access regardless of whether the user is online, offline or using a mobile device like a tablet or mobile phone or even only a web browser. The user is able to share his owned files easily with other users or groups through a simple web interface.

But how does this affect enterprise IT?

These new user requirements are not limited to consumers. Actually, the need to have access to your important files and work on them in a geographically distributed team is a very common requirement of today’s enterprises. Dropbox has inspired a number of other products and services specifically targeting the enterprise market to appear in recent years. Not only do these programs support the new file sharing paradigm, but they also support core enterprise requirements for data security, privacy and control.

IBM Connections (and its software as a service companion IBM SmartCloud for Social Business) is a perfect example.

File services today are no longer based on shared network drives, but rather on distributed file repositories with easy access through web interfaces or replication clients and which enables the user to perform limited management task themselves. If the enterprise IT department does not fulfill these new user requirements, shadow IT based on Dropbox and similar technologies may continue to rise. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Why IBM should acquire Blackberry

After some weeks of negotiating with possible buyers, Blackberry (formally known as Research in Motion, RIM) decided that they won’t be for sale and stopped all acquisition talks. However, the various press articles about possible buying candidates, made me think about what it would mean for both companies if IBM would acquire Blackberry.

To my surprise, it would actually match very well.

Why this would be good for Blackberry:

Blackberry’s revenue is declining over the past years. Even the release of the new Blackberry OS 10 did not bring the expected turn around. Therefore, Blackberry was looking for a partner who would not only secure their future existence but also also add new distribution channels and opportunities for their assets.

IBM would provide these new distribution channels when bundling Blackberry hardware and services with IBM professional services on an enterprise level.

Why this would make sense for IBM:

One keypoint of IBM’s overall strategy is Mobile together with Cloud, Big Data / Analytics and Social Media. The Blackberry products – especially Blackberry OS 10 – could be an ideal platform for IBM’s Mobile First initative. Although Blackberry is not very popular in the consumer space and faces almost eroding market share there, it still maintains a rather strong share in the enterprise arena. And this does have a reason: Blackberry meets more enterprise requirements than any other mobile platform does.

Manageability and Control – it was always a core concept of Blackberry to enable an enterprise to keep control over its devices from a central management point.

Security – Blackberry can be considered the only truly secure mobile platform. iOS and Windows Phone are proprietary solutions where any enterprise depends on the vendor company, and open Android has frequent security voluntaries, Blackberry still maintains strong market creditability for its security concept and policies.

Container based concept to separate critical business data from private data.


Buying Blackberry would give IBM a strong enterprise oriented mobile platform and would make IBM independent from other mobile vendors strategies and limitations. A solid solution with Blackberry technology and IBM software, services and distribution channels would certainly be a strong player and hard to beat. Unfortunately that is all not very likely to happen soon 🙂

How SmarterComputing solutions can work for you

Last Saturday I finally registered my membership for car2go. You might have seen the white and blue Smart-cars in selected cities. Car2go basically is a car sharing offering, however, what fascinates me about it is the full integration with SmarterComputing and cloud technologies that brings a real value for me as a member.

I have to admit that my curiosity about how they managed to bring all these technologies together was one of my main motivations to join. I own a car, a motorbike and public transport in my hometown Vienna is definitely one of the best worldwide. so I am not really dependent on another transport option; however, the whole concept of a car sharing offering, well integrated with the Internet and mobile devices, caught my attention. Beside the fact that I always wanted to know what it is to drive a Smart-car and that is definitely one of the cheapest ways to find out.

Registrations is simple as it can be, you fill out a web form and then you just need to stop by the car2go shop to show your drivers license and pick up your membership card. Not really extraordinary until that, but now it starts getting thrilling almost as described by Sebastian in his blog post about driving as a service (

You either look on the Internet or you use the car2go smartphone app to check out where the nearest free car is parked. You see that on a GoogleMap overlay. You can then choose to reserve a car simply by clicking on it in the map. It will then be set to occupied for the next 30min so that you can comfortably walk to it and check it. Checking in means you put your NFC equipped membership card on the windshield’s lower left corner where a device in the car reads out the data from that membership card and after validation unlocks the car for you.

Because the key is in the car you can then just drive around while a fee per minute is charged to your account, regardless how many kilometers you drive. The fee is quite reasonable.

Of course, the car2go area is limited. You can drive outside that area, but you can checkout only when within the boundaries. The car always knows its exact position and sends that to the central systems. Checking out is as easy as checking in. You just place your membership card on that space on the windshield and the car is locked. As soon as you check out, the car is immediately shown as available on the maps with its exact position!

I would really like to see more of these kind of offerings. It indeed shows what SmarterComputing can do for you in your day to day life!