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Two ways to ensure corporate data access, backup

Desktop management software and cloud backup tools give IT pros a way to ensure employees always have access to corporate data, even when their devices fail. But they approach these goals in very different ways.

Users want constant corporate data access and IT has a number of ways to deliver it along with endpoint device backup using either cloud or on-premises software.

One approach is with desktop management software. Organizations with more limited needs can turn to cloud-based backup, which also offers benefits for bring your own device shops.

Providing data access with DesktopNow

The city of Round Rock, Texas uses VMware Horizon View 5.3 on vCenter 5.5 for its virtual desktop needs but added AppSense's DesktopNow Plus to manage its fleet of 450 physical desktops and 400 virtual desktops.

When the city came across DesktopNow, the IT department realized it wasn't thinking big enough and started examining user profile virtualization for virtual and physical desktops. With the addition of DesktopNow Plus, city employees can shift from machine to machine and location to location and have all their files at the ready, according to Brooks Bennett, the city's CIO.

What could have taken a user support technician up to a day to turn around can now be done in a matter of hours, if not minutes.
Brooks BennettCIO, Round Rock, Texas

"That's a great productivity benefit for people not having to go and fetch files and we're not redundantly storing those files in different places," Bennett said.

DesktopNow Plus provides backup support because files live within an organization's data center, so if a physical machine fails, data can be easily accessed on a new machine once DesktopNow is installed.

"What could have taken a user support technician up to a day to turn around can now be done in a matter of hours, if not minutes," Bennett said.

AppSense recently updated DesktopNow with interface enhancements, new wizards and templates, multi-instance desktop as a service support and on-demand rights elevation for administrators.

For Round Rock, the new wizards and templates support should be helpful. When Microsoft Office 2013 was released, the city worked with AppSense to make sure its transition to that software was smooth and access to those documents could be maintained.

"It's really important to have those wizards and templates ready for the different apps that our organization supports," Bennett said. "When we have apps that may be a little bit different, we are able to reach out directly to AppSense to help develop those templates."

The DesktopNow suite includes AppSense Environment Manager, Application Manager and Performance Manager, while DesktopNow Plus includes those features and DataNow for data access. The products are available through a perpetual license starting at $125 per user.

Other companies with similar desktop management tools include Liquidware Labs' ProfileUnity Suite and RES Software's Workspace Manager.

CrashPlan saves data for university devices

IT shops that don't need all the features of a desktop management suite for corporate data access can look to a lower-cost cloud backup application.

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana faced a different problem around device access to data, with a backup system that couldn't handle the influx of more university-issued laptops and desktops and personal mobile devices for faculty and staff.

Notre Dame began exploring options within the Internet 2 NET+ partner network and came across Code42's cloud backup product, CrashPlan, which runs on desktops and mobile devices.  

As much as the university wants users to utilize its core storage infrastructure, it understands that may be difficult to do on employee-owned devices such as a Macintosh laptop, according to Ronald Kraemer, Notre Dame's vice president for information technology and chief information and digital officer.

"If you are running a product like CrashPlan [the product] just becomes trivial, in that it happens in the background. If you are on that, your stuff is immediately being backed up," Kraemer said.

The university started with a 500-seat license with CrashPlan a year ago and found success, leading to a new shared cost model when classes resume this fall, where individuals and departments can decide if they want to buy licenses, according to Kraemer.

Most of Notre Dame's users rely on Windows, Linux or Macintosh computers for their research work and projects. The school hasn't seen as much traction on mobile devices, although CrashPlan allows users to pull up those documents when needed, according to Kraemer.

CrashPlan is integrated with Notre Dame's identity and access management system, so one credential is used to access the information backed up there. That's particularly helpful when a device fails.

"If something does happen with a device failure, for me I can give a premium service and say to them 'Don't worry, if you installed [CrashPlan] your book is OK or your research is OK,'" Kraemer said.

Similar products to CrashPlan include Druva inSync, EMC MozyEnterprise and CommVault Edge.

Notre Dame is one of 450 U.S. colleges and universities to adopt CrashPlan for endpoint data backup, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the company.

CrashPlan comes in both a home and business version. The business version is available on a yearly per-user basis starting with $60 per user for a one-year license, with discounts for volume purchases.

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How do you ensure access to corporate data on your desktops and mobile devices?
The first thing that ensures access to corporate data on both devices is the existence of a dedicated server that you have to connect through. To connect, you need a special user ID and password. You can connect to most data through the corporate server, but are always being watched on what you are accessing. Having a secure user ID and password ensures that you will always be able to connect to the corporate server.
What if paying is completely out of question ?