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Work Together Tools

Social Collaboration with Novell Vibe Cloud

Written by Ken Baker

New for the Enterprise

Novell Vibe Cloud Enterprise delivers the first real-time social collaboration environment that's enterprise-secure. It has all the features of the Basic version with the addition of more user storage (5GB aggregated quota per user versus 250MB per individual), unlimited groups, data ownership by the enterprise, federated authentication and an organizational management console.

The greatest challenge to successful enterprise social collaboration deals with the open versus closed paradox. Do you choose the open route that allows the free flow of information where everyone can see everything except for those things that individual users deem as private? Or do you take the closed approached where you lock everything down to keep all your data secure, leaving you with no flexibility to manage or customize controls, let alone enable the much needed collaboration with your partners and customers? Novell Vibe Cloud solves this paradox by allowing you to get the best of both ends of the spectrum.

Novell Vibe Cloud also delivers rich document creation, collaborative editing and document sharing that lets you get work done with other users in real-time with co-editable online documents, wikis, meeting notes, and more.

To accomplish this, Novell Vibe Cloud leverages the expertise Novell has in enterprise collaboration, as well as its industry-leading identity and security management solutions. The first aspect of solving this paradox deals with the ability Vibe Cloud has to use your existing enterprise identity and access management systems and directory servers. This lets you easily provision users and groups in Vibe Cloud, as well as allow you to extend your existing single sign-on and credentials to your users so they can use the same login for Vibe Cloud that they use for all their applications.

To leverage your identity infrastructure, Novell Vibe Cloud uses the industry standard Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) to dynamically provision users when they sign on. You can also choose to only use the SAML-based federated capability to authenticate users from your directory or to layer on SAML-based federated provisioning by mapping identity fields from your directory to Vibe Cloud. Through the use of the secure assertion-based protocol in SAML, your directory infrastructure is never exposed and Vibe Cloud never sees or stores your users’ credentials. All of these capabilities allow you to use your established security and management processes to keep your Vibe Cloud content safe and secure. Also, if you don’t have your own identity management system, Vibe Cloud can securely store your user identities for you as users sign up or through an upload of user information via a .CSV file.

The second aspect of Novell Vibe Cloud that addresses the open versus closed paradox of social collaboration is through its organizational controls that let you flexibly govern content visibility and access at the person, group and organizational levels through permissions settings. (See Figure 3.) You can make all or certain aspects of your Vibe Cloud environment as closed or as open as you need.

Through the console you can centrally manage the Vibe Cloud environment to ensure compliance with your corporate policies. Even though Novell Vibe Cloud allows you to exert as much management influence as you need, it also provides an array of self-service management capabilities.

For example, users don’t have to wait for IT to create their own profiles and groups to start taking advantage of Novell Vibe Cloud. For the groups that users create, they can define the groups' basic attributes, such as name, description, leadership, and member contact information. If you allow it, users can decide if they want the group to be open for the whole world to see, open just within their organization, or limited to a select (“private”) group of invited individuals. To the extent that you allow, individual users can have the ability to set their own access control and security preferences. These controls are overlaid by the layer of access management and control that you establish at the enterprise management level.

It’s this enterprise level of control that addresses the visibility, access, and governance for those inside and outside of your organization, which in turn allows for secure inter-company collaboration. That’s one of the most compelling aspects of Novell Vibe Cloud—its ability to allow your users to easily start sharing information with trusted partners and trusted parties outside your organization. Even with the Enterprise version it’s as easy as sending an e-mail to invite an external colleague or customer into Novell Vibe Cloud. Although working easily with people outside your organization may be critical to your employees’ success, being totally open may not be your objective.

For example, you might set up your Novell Vibe Cloud environment as follows. By default, individuals or groups outside of your organization can’t see any information about your organization when accessing Vibe Cloud. They can’t see or connect to your users. They can’t see any of your organization’s groups or communities. Everything about your organization is hidden to the outside world.

However, you can extend privileges to your users that enable them at their individual discretion to create groups that allow them and other users in your organization to connect to and share with partners, customers or others outside of your organization. This type of setup prevents these outside entities or individuals from seeing the organization-specific information that you want to keep hidden, while allowing them to see, share and interact with individuals and information specific to the group with which they’ve been invited to participate.

This empowers users to establish the real-time social interactions and ad-hoc collaboration capabilities they need when they need them. They don’t need to wait on IT and you don’t have to drop what you’re doing to get them set up and moving business forward. And you don’t have to sacrifice enterprise security, controls and policy. In other words, Novell Vibe Cloud balances your need for flexibility and control with granular access controls, as well as integration with your established enterprise processes.

No More Roadblocks

Novell Vibe Cloud removes the roadblocks that keep your people and partners from working together effectively to achieve the results your business needs. With a focus on speed, ease and security, it gives your users what they want and it gives you the safeguards and control you need. It brings the power and freedom of today’s popular social tools to enterprise collaboration, without the security risks. By creating a secure environment rich with “work together” tools, it lets your people collaborate in real-time across continents and organizations to achieve faster, better results.

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