As companies look to cut costs and manage projects involving far-flung staff, many are investigating wikis, file-sharing services, and other consumer technologies to deliver Web-based collaboration inexpensively.
Bringing these tools into a corporate environment presents thorny issues, however. Chief among them is security: IT is justifiably wary of giving users privileges such as directly editing Web content or uploading files when their companies lack the technology and policies to enable safe Web 2.0 use.
But are there cost-effective collaboration tools that you don't have to just say no to? In this Rolling Review, we'll find out. To get a good look at a cross section of available apps, we invited a range of vendors, from major players like Microsoft, Novell, and Google to smaller companies such as Central Desktop, Socialtext, and CallWave. As we test these tools at our Phil Hippensteel Associates partner labs, we'll evaluate how well they address these key considerations:
• Who has the data?
Trade secrets, customer lists, and competitive intelligence must be carefully guarded. Violations of regulations and privacy laws are always a concern when data is in the hands of others. Whoever controls the data will be responsible for it and will be held accountable for any data that might be evidence in court cases.
• How secure is it?
Collaboration services track the progress of projects while integrating e-mail, schedules, and new contacts with local databases. These tools require users to send and receive files, images, and Java scripts to corporate computers, possibly from peer devices that are outside IT's control.Antivirus and intrusion-detection software can spot inappropriate e-mail attachments, but finding malware embedded in HTTP traffic is more difficult.