Collaboration in COVID-19 Times
Working on specific projects, FCP needs to be very flexible in its internal and external collaboration, to accommodate client teams, external project partners, and FCP staff working at a clients’ site, remote, or from branch offices. Early on, the company standardized on Micro Focus, underpinned by Micro Focus Open Enterprise Server in a cluster environment. When a new FCP employee arrives, they are added to eDirectory and given group membership to all the collaboration tools they require. Depending on their job role, they may be given up to 10 additional GroupWise email accounts, to enable them to work on different projects and with specific competency centers, as well as a private email account. This results in some 3,000 users across 11 post offices. GroupWise and its GroupWise Messenger function provide the easy proxy access required.
FCP is evaluating Micro Focus Enterprise Messaging. This provides a compelling extension to GroupWise capabilities, offering archiving, back-up, and sophistical mailbox management. In addition, it provides chat-based teamwork, particularly suited for a remote working environment.
Georg Fritsch, IT Director at FCP Fritsch, Chiari & Partner ZT GmbH explains how having this structure in place suddenly became very important: “We were recently faced with the effects of the global COVID-19 virus outbreak. With countries taking lockdown measures, we had to act swiftly. We were told on Friday that the vast majority of our staff needed to work remotely from the following Monday. We normally allow for around 20 percent of our workforce to work remotely. Thankfully, with the Micro Focus collaboration tools, we quickly expanded our group definitions, in particular for Micro Focus Filr and Vibe, added VPN connections, and using eDirectory to ensure GDPR data compliance, we had 95 percent of our staff remotely working within mere minutes.”
Filr – Ease of Use and Convenience are Key
Without the collaboration environment ready to react to these unique circumstances, different project teams would have sought their own data storage and collaboration solutions, resulting in a diverse set of tools with data that would be very hard to consolidate back into a central repository. FCP knew this from experience, having made the move to standardize on Filr as its file sharing solution, as Fritsch recalls: “Before we implemented Filr, our staff were using a myriad of file sharing solutions: Dropbox, WeTransfer, Google Drive, OneDrive, FTP, as well as physical mediums such as CDs or USB drives. It was frankly a disaster from a user, management, and security perspective. Filr honours the rights and credentials already in place through eDirectory, and just adds an easy and convenient layer that users can directly access from within their key applications. Users soon started to see the benefits and found their own individual use cases. Our Filr server now contains 30TB of data and 20 million files across three million subdirectories.”
The Filr tablet and mobile app is in daily use. Filr is used to remotely access project data through a desktop app, browser, or WebDAV mapping, without VPN requirements. Files are sent and received directly to and from main file servers, and users can control project servers to give external partners viewing or contributing access to files.
Vibe and ZENworks Complete the Picture
Many large-scale, multi-year FCP projects, such as new hospitals, shopping centers, or highways, consist of a dedicated FCP core team with well-defined external and customer-side participants. Micro Focus Vibe has proved its worth as an effective collaboration solution, to define tasks lists and maintain a project group calendar, ensuring large project teams are kept informed of each other’s key milestones and activities.
To manage this distributed and complex IT environment, FCP employs Micro Focus ZENworks Suite. Centralizing the management of all FCP devices into a single, unified, web-based ZENworks console, security, patch, and configuration management tasks are performed from one place. Fritsch is delighted with the ease of management: “We have over 300 ZENworks bundles that cover all installation and updates of our business-critical applications. As a rule we only accept software that can be managed by ZENworks. Far from being a limitation, we haven’t actually found anything that ZENworks could not manage.”
With a relatively small IT team, FCP is pleased with ease of management, stability, and security of Micro Focus collaboration solutions. “Our Micro Focus infrastructure requires minimal computing resources. We run our entire environment on four simple servers, including maintenance and upgrade redundancy, and expect we would need to quadruple that if we had gone with different solutions,” concludes Fritsch.