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What you can learn about collaboration and cloud computing from rugby teams

Geraldine Osman, the VP of international marketing at Connected Data, discusses what IT teams and bosses can learn about cloud computing and teamwork from the champions of collaboration – aka the best international rugby teams.
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What an incredible start to the Rugby World Cup! An England victory, an Ireland victory and even less predictably a Japanese victory.

The rugby has started with much excitement that in the interest of achieving something productive this week, I’ve decided to incorporate the RWC into the next task on my job-list… an advice piece on collaborative working in the cloud. Bear with me, there is some sense in my madness.

As the tournament gets into full swing (low, sweet chariot), I’ve put pen to paper on what teams can learn from the international rugby teams.

Whether at work or on the field, the usual overarching strategy is to achieve goals. Drop goal or penalty goal, they all count and are achieved by following a process of tackles, tries and conversions. These processes require team collaboration overseen by a coach.

However, in many businesses today, not all members of the team are playing on the same field. Or, they’re not on the field ready to play at the same time. They want to pass the ball to team members, to intercept or line-out, but there are too many obstructions to smooth the way. The problem is that they aren’t using all opportunities open to them to collaborate.

Before cloud computing, collaborative working was restricted to employees sharing an office and a VPN. But, the reality is that the people in our teams are no longer just in our office. Cloud working enables employees to collaborate with colleagues working from home, offsite and with people in other organisations. However, setting up, running and working within a collaborative cloud environment it isn’t always straightforward. It will need some careful pre-match planning in order to really come out on top.

(1) Pass, try and convert

Think of a file as a ball. You want the ball to be passed from player to player until the right person can take it to its final destination, over the line, hopefully scoring a try. In business, you want enable file sharing with those who need to input or update them. You want to enable collaboration on the latest versions of files so they are eventually sent to their end point, which could be a client’s desk or the big screen. What you don’t want is for the ball to go out of play, into the crowd or worse into the other team’s hands.

Read more about how the Rugby World Cup could affect business:

Top tip: If you allow Dropbox to be used at work, then you should allow it full stop. This means you have no control over employees taking company data and placing it on personal Dropbox accounts, either deliberately or accidentally causing you loss of sight of your data.

(2) Keep team tactics under wraps

In order to collaborate, some employees are using the same public cloud services they use outside of the office, for their personal file sync and sharing. The issue for the enterprise is that public cloud, such as Dropbox, is by its very nature public. Businesses using the public cloud to share files, cannot have the same visibility or control of the company’s data as those using an on premise private cloud solution that they 100 per centown. By contrast, private cloud is like a ball that never leaves your possession. Not even a video referee (or the CIA for that matter) can snoop into your files.

Top tip: Know exactly where your data resides. The server used by your public cloud provider may very well reside in the US, which means the CIA has every right to look at any data it wishes.

(3) Assigning positions is critical

In rugby the coach or selector decides who plays in the forward and back lines and who is on the bench. Equally, with a private cloud, the file owner decides who has edit rights and who has read only. They can share a file or link without sharing an entire folder.

Top tip: If you own the device where the data resides, you own the permissions. This means no one can see the data, leak the data, share the data or even access the data about your data! While public cloud providers may employ encryption technology, it’s meaningless if they have access to the private encryption keys. Box, Dropbox and many other public cloud storage companies hold the private encryption keys for your data meaning they can access it at any time. Choose a private cloud that generates and stores your private encryption keys directly on your appliances.

(4) Avoid penalties

Penalties for breaking the laws of rugby could cost you the game at a critical moment. Similarly, by using public cloud some companies are also putting themselves at risk of severe financial penalties because compliance legislation demands that their data is either kept on premise or kept in the country of origin. Not on some unknown server in the US.

Top tip: Public cloud file sync and share providers struggle to meet data protection compliance in many countries, as the exact location of data is undefined. Not only does this increase the risk of unauthorised access or information loss, it can breach industry and government regulations. Store data on a device owned by the company, at locations it controls and you eliminate privacy concerns.

So, by sticking to a strategic game plan, keeping tactics under wraps and avoiding penalties, safe and secure collaborative working is achievable for an organisation. Likewise, if England has a chance to match opposition such as the All Blacks or Ireland, they are going to have to work in a more effective and powerful way than their opposition. 

I’ll be watching the England vs Wales game, looking on as England plays as one great beautiful team. Will they go the distance? Who knows? I’d love to think so. One thing’s for sure though, if we do get through to the final on 31 October, it will be as a result of strong team play as well as outstanding individual performances, with input and collaboration from all of the supporting staff around them. Good luck to the England team and here’s to an exciting and inspiring World Cup, whomever you support.

Geraldine Osman is VP of international marketing at Connected Data.

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