Before anyone at CSC panics, no this is not me!!! Mrs Downes gave up traditional employment recently to become self employed. I thought it would be good to share the architecture and "how-to" articles I used. Mrs D is a chartered marketer and in terms of workstyle here are her basic requirements:
- Email, synchronised read marks on 2 machines and a mobile device, accessible from the internet
- Calendar, synchronised between 2 machines and a mobile device, accessible from the internet
- Files, synchronised between 2 machines, accessible from the internet and an internet connected mobile device
- Files, ability to share files in a restricted and public fashion.
Email and calendar:
Basic Arrangement: All messages are collected from various POP3 mailboxes into an IMAP enabled googlemail.com account. All end clients then maintain unread marks, folder structure etc. through the IMAP capability. Messages can be read and responded to from any device. On all devices apart from the mobile device responses can be made from any email address. At present the googlemail mobile client we are using doesn’t allow for responses from addresses other than the googlemail.com address. The PC based mail clients all run on windows vista. One client is Outlook 2007 and the other due to me being too stingy to pay for a licence runs on Thunderbird. The mobile client is the googlemail application for a blackberry smartphone.
Calendar is slightly more complicated due to the mix of mail clients, the core element to this is a google calendar. On the outlook client I’m using google’s synchronisation plugin which can be downloaded here. On the thunderbird client I’m using the lightening plugin to enable calendar functionality, then this additional provider add-on to allow calendar synchronisation. The excellent instructions I used are here.
I must first thank Steve for pointing me to sugarsync.com. What an excellent service. Immediate backup to the cloud, synchronisation of files between multiple PC’s, availability of files via the internet and from internet connected mobile devices. I’m not going to draw a diagram but this webpage describes things much better than I can. It is just superb in the fact that if offers both backup, sync, web access, mobile access in a single service.
Whilst I haven’t settled on a final solution here I think it will be Microsoft’s skydrive. Although in true modern day style please leave a comment if you have a better solution.
The next steps for Mrs Downes’ IT organisation
Well I think the next steps will be an internet presence, a content management tool etc. She has no need at present for web meeting, audio or video bridging services, but if she ever does I’ll share those here also.
And then in our enterprises?
This work has made me reflect on how many of these services are available. How much of this can you do today? The tools today in the consumer space far surpass those in most enterprises – and the smaller the scale, the less change control, the less application integration etc etc. It is easier than in the enterprise. The challenge going forward will be "mashing" all these tools into more homogenous "organisational" blobs as more people work in the consumer space.