Today, people work from where they can. Work is no longer happening only within the four walls of a single building. In fact, 65% of full-time employees think remote work increases productivity. And this is validated by two-thirds of managers.
In addition, work no longer just happens within a single company. More than 55% of business leaders are extending collaboration to external parties. This means that there is an increase in collaboration between companies, and between people in different locations.
Of course, people expect team collaboration to be seamless. Who wants to spend time working out how to work with someone else depending on their location? In order for people to be able to be as productive as possible, collaboration tools need to be easy to use, and offer great user experiences. They need to enable people to work with others, wherever they are, at any time – that’s a given.
However, at the same time, privacy, security and compliance are a key consideration when selecting a team collaboration solution. And as more people work with others inside and outside their company, and increasingly with more people in different locations, these considerations extend to where important information is located. This study shows that keeping data in-region is now a key consideration.
We understand these needs – privacy, security and compliance are a key factor in Webex solution design. As a truly global service, our Webex Meetings service has a globally distributed architecture, and there are many ways in which Webex helps customers work with the solutions that they have in place, which is key to keeping data in-region.
Security and privacy
As a global service provider, we understand that our customers require their data to be handled securely, with privacy and resiliency. They look to us to solve these problems:
- Keep my data local to my region, for reasons of privacy and regulatory compliance.
- Don’t make my users’ apps hop across oceans to connect to your services – reduce latency
- Ensure service availability
- Allow my users to collaborate with anyone, from any company, why they need to – because collaboration is the fuel that drives innovation and productivity.
- Let me keep an eye on the exchange of information by my users both inside my company and with external people, so I can enforce company policies without stifling productivity and innovation.
The next logical step for us is to introduce new European data centers for Webex Teams itself, to hold personal information and encryption keys for team collaboration. These data centers are located in London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and are in addition to our US data centers and provide in-region storage of our customers’ Personal Identifiable Information (PII) data and encryption keys used to encrypt user generated content.
Keeping key information in-region without compromising global team collaboration
What does this mean for you and your users? Well – the answer is that your users get the same great collaboration experience they are used to, while keeping important information in-region. Cisco Webex achieves data locality without compromising on the promise of a global collaboration platform.
What are the potential issues with global collaboration?
Most cloud solutions drive businesses through instance-based workloads, requiring users to sign-in to specific logically separated instances of a service. These cloud services may be multi-tenant, so this approach provides a sense of separation of customer data, although it is not truly a physical separation.
This model introduces cumbersome administrative overhead. It allows cross-organization communications through guest accounts – which essentially replicates a user’s PII in two different logical locations for performant reasons.
Managing such guest accounts is akin to having multiple phones for each company you work with.
In this scenario, the compliance officers of a guest user have no visibility into these communications – leaving a large gap for compliance, eDiscovery and legal requirements. This results in Information Security overseers and CIOs resisting introducing solutions that enable external communication. The effect of this can be to inadvertently encourage other “non-approved” apps for external communications and collaboration, due to business needs.
How does Cisco Webex Teams resolve the issues?
In Cisco Webex Teams, there is a single identity, a single conversation thread, and a single place for all users’ collaboration messages, whiteboard drawings and file sharing. Webex Teams has unique ownership rules for users as they collaborate. And we enable clear visibility to all organizations for multi-organization communications.
Like other cloud service providers, Webex Teams is multi-tenant; but it also allows for co-mingling. Co-mingling allows messages from users from different companies to be associated with a project space. With Webex Teams, compliance managers from each company have visibility of those messages and have the option to control aspects such as:
- Prevent co-mingling, if you want to.
- Enable visibility, if you choose to allow co-mingling.
- Take action, in case of data leaks.
- Hold encryption keys on-premises. Note that Webex Teams provides end-to-end encryption of all user-generated content, whether or not you require this level of control.
How does this model work with global data centers?
As we introduce physically separate data centers with multiple instances of services, how do we meet the needs of global seamless, simple and intuitive collaboration?
Our design leverages the concept of federation to make this happen.
What is Federation?
Federation is a complex capability for services to be able to discover each other, trust each other, communicate information to each other in order to support seamless workloads from the clients. This has to be done without compromising the service’s own integrity and availability in case the other service is no longer available for any reason.
With the European data center, we have the following globally federated services:
- Identity services – single user, single organization, single search. No duplication of PII.
- Authentication services – SAML and OAuth 2.0 standards based global authentication and authorization services.
- Encryption keys – locally stored keys, globally available as needed through secure channels.
Our future phases will introduce locally stored messages, files, whiteboards (all always encrypted) with global access (only if authorized by the customer).
And what you, the Customer, gains..
Through all of the above semi-technical jargon, what do you stand to gain when you use Cisco Webex Teams?
- Your data is stored in your regional data center– you meet regulatory and privacy needs.
- Your users have faster connection times to the collaboration tools you provide them – because clients connect to the data centers closest to them.
- You are assured of improved service availability through service isolation – an outage of a data center in another part of the world should not impact your users.
- You do not have to stifle productivity and collaboration because Cisco Webex supports your need for access and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, any device.
- You are assured of enterprise grade security in your user generated content (messages, files, boards) with end to end encryption and keys now stored in your region.
- You are assured of 100% visibility on the information exchange amongst your users, even when they communicate with external users and across any data center – the global search and compliance capabilities ensure eDiscovery continues to work as expected even if your users’ are collaborating with users from remote data centers
- You can enforce your compliance policies, in case your users inadvertently get out of compliance and share sensitive data with others. Due to the ownership rules and the global nature of our services and CASB integrations, you can continue to enforce DLP policies even if the content is stored in remote data centers
Please also review the blog – Three things to consider for safe and secure team collaboration for more insights on that topic.
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