Rob Howard is the chief technology officer of Zimbra. Telligent, the company that Howard founded in 2004, acquired Zimbra from VMware in July 2013, and the two businesses merged to form Zimbra, Inc.
Communication has been pushed to new heights with advancing smartphone capabilities and cloud-based applications and services, but are these technologies making communication better?
One of the benefits of modern communication systems is the reduced friction of team and business collaboration. To fully realize the promise of these modern technologies, they must fit into daily workflows. They cannot be disruptive and must be complementary to how employees want to work.
No Two Business Environments the Same
Collaboration software shouldn’t be a barrier to efficient communication. Since no two business environments are the same, the need to easily customize solutions to best fit unique needs is paramount. The flexibility of open source collaboration provides such a solution. In fact, a recent Ponemon Institute survey of IT and IT security practitioners found that 74 percent of U.S. and 57 percent EMEA respondents agree that commercial open source allows them to take control and modify code to suit their business needs.
Regardless of productivity gains, businesses cannot deploy software in a vacuum, and security must be considered. As the primary mode of business communication, email presents potential risk to security and privacy. Because of this, IT teams need to consider the implications on security and privacy early in the selection process, and remember the potential impact of file sharing via email. An enterprise-grade solution should tightly integrate file-sharing and messaging capabilities, allowing for easy control over attachments, recipients and sharing. Respondents to the Ponemon Institute survey said this tight integration (70 percent of U.S. respondents and 61 percent of EMEA respondents) was an important or very important feature for messaging and collaboration solutions.
Addressing Risks to Security and Privacy
For data security and privacy, there are multiple angles for addressing the situation. Let’s focus first on the code level. By its very nature, an open source collaboration solution is transparent, which allows the open source community to review the entire code base and provide insight into possible bugs and vulnerabilities. That same community can help solve any issues that may arise. The same survey found that 66 percent of EMEA respondents and 52 percent of U.S. respondents agreed that commercial backing and code transparency reduces applications’ privacy risks. The same features improve application security, with 67 percent of EMEA respondents in agreement and 55 percent of U.S. respondents agreeing.
From there, open API layers enable easy interoperability and integrations. This allows third-party security products and protocols to seamlessly plug into the solution, which is a key feature professionals want for collaboration— support for third-party antispam, antivirus and two-factor authentication.
A Silver(ish) Bullet
The cost benefits of open source are well known, in fact 62 percent of U.S. respondents and 50 percent of EMEA respondents agreed. But the leverage organizations get from open source’s security and flexibility is often misstated or misunderstood. Because of these features, early investment in an open solution pay dividends into the future as business and customer needs change.
Is open source collaboration the key to communication? No silver bullet exists that provides organizations with everything they desire in a single solution. With that said, commercial open source collaboration solutions help companies future proof their investment and give them what is needed to fit their unique requirements. So, if what you are seeking is better security and privacy, improved flexibility and greater control over your collaboration solution, then you should consider open source.
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