Since the 1960s, JOANNEUM RESEARCH has pioneered advancements in many disciplines, including computing, medicine and material sciences. Based in Graz, Austria, the organization also operates from locations in the cities of Weiz, Niklasdorf, Klagenfurt, Pinkafeld and Vienna.To push the frontiers of human knowledge, JOANNEUM RESEARCH’s team of over 450 research professionals need to share data with colleagues across Austria, and with academic institutions and research partners around the world.
Johannes Saurugg, IT Administrator at JOANNEUM RESEARCH, explains: “Because research is a collaborative effort, it’s crucial that we make it easy for our teams to share data reliably. Some of our work is commercially sensitive, which means it’s also very important for us to maintain high levels of information security and effective data governance.”
CHALLENGES: To advance the frontiers of human knowledge, JOANNEUM RESEARCH aimed to make it faster and easier for its teams to exchange data with academic institutions and research partners — without compromising on security.
RESULTS: JOANNEUM RESEARCH replaced manual, SFTP-based approaches to data-sharing with an on-premises deployment of Syncplicity, empowering its teams to start sharing data with new research partners up to 60 percent faster.
Distributed data-sharing reduces efficiency
In the past, JOANNEUM RESEARCH relied on Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) servers to exchange data with partners outside the organization’s firewall. As well as requiring significant amounts of the IT department’s time, this manual approach made it difficult for JOANNEUM RESEARCH to ensure its teams were sharing data in a way that complied with the organization’s data governance policies.
“Previously, each of our research units was responsible for managing its own data-sharing platforms, so it took a lot of effort to monitor our overall data governance and information security posture,” continues Saurugg.
“In recent years, the rise of mobile connectivity and cloud storage platforms have also driven significant changes to the way our teams work, and we knew that increasing amounts of research data was being stored and shared on devices and platforms outside of the IT department’s direct control.”
JOANNEUM RESEARCH saw an opportunity to enhance the security and efficiency of its approach to data-sharing. The aim was to replace the distributed SFTP servers with a single, central platform that would empower researchers to exchange data with external partners faster while offering the IT team a clear overview of the entire data-sharing landscape.
“Syncplicity offers full support for mobile working — empowering our researchers to back up and access data from their smartphones and tablets and ensuring we can remotely wipe and deprovision devices if they go missing.”
Embracing a central collaboration platform
After a thorough evaluation of several enterprise-class platforms, JOANNEUM RESEARCH selected Syncplicity — a file-sharing and content-collaboration solution that empowers organizations to offer on-premises levels of security and data protection with the flexibility and user experience of the cloud.
“We started with a small-scale proof-of-concept exercise for Syncplicity with 100 of our researchers, and we were very pleased with the results,” Saurugg recalls. “From the IT department perspective, Syncplicity was extremely easy to deploy and manage — eliminating the need for hours of work provisioning SFTP servers for new research partners.
“The proof-of-concept exercise also highlighted significant benefits for our researchers. The Syncplicity solution’s tight integration with Microsoft Outlook means people can share links to files stored on Syncplicity rather than sending large email attachments. As well as helping us to reduce the load on our network, sending links to a single version of a file on Syncplicity delivers enhanced version control for our researchers.”
He continues: “Crucially, Syncplicity offers full support for mobile working — empowering our researchers to back up and access data from their smartphones and tablets and ensuring we can remotely wipe and deprovision devices if they go missing. Syncplicity is extremely intuitive, and we were confident that our people would be able to get up and running quickly and with minimal training.”
Strengthening governance, protecting data
Today, more than 450 employees across JOANNEUM RESEARCH rely on Syncplicity to share, access and back up data on their PCs, laptops and mobile devices. All files across the organization are stored on and synchronized to a secure, on-premises storage platform — delivering automated, real-time version control and restore capabilities that keep critical data protected 24/7.
“We are now supporting all our researchers with a secure platform for data-sharing inside and outside of the organization, while ensuring our stringent data governance requirements are always being met.”
“Within just a few months of deploying Syncplicity into production, all of our research units decided to make the switch from their distributed SFTP servers to the new, central platform — a testament to how easy the Syncplicity solution is to use,” says Saurugg. “We are now supporting all our researchers with a secure platform for data-sharing inside and outside of the organization, while ensuring our stringent data governance requirements are always being met.”
Accelerating new research partnerships
Since transitioning to Syncplicity, JOANNEUM RESEARCH has significantly reduced the time and manual effort required to onboard and manage new research partners.
Saurugg adds: “In the past, setting up a new STFP connection with an external research organization was an involved and time-consuming process that could take as long as half a working day to complete. Since we switched to Syncplicity, we’ve accelerated onboarding for new partners by more than 60 percent on average — helping our researchers spend less time on administration tasks and more time on cutting-edge work.”
Enabling operational continuity in the COVID-19 crisis
By offering full support for mobile working, the Syncplicity solution is equipping the organization’s researchers to stay productive even when working on the move or away from a reliable internet connection. Syncplicity has proved particularly valuable during the COVID-19 crisis by enabling researchers to work effectively from home.
“With Syncplicity at the heart of our digital collaboration strategy, we are equipping our teams to continue their pioneering work from any device and any location.”
“The 2020 coronavirus outbreak underscores how important it is for research institutions to be able to collaborate, and our partnership with Axway is enabling us to play a key supporting role in Austria’s response to the crisis,” explains Saurugg. “Within days of the lockdown hitting Europe, Syncplicity gave us 150 extra user seats for Syncplicity for Remote Work at no cost. We are now offering those additional Syncplicity seats to enable researchers from our external partners in academia and medicine to work with our teams on the development of vaccines and treatments.”
He concludes: “In the years to come, we see that advancing the frontiers of scientific and medical research will depend on our ability to share data effectively and securely with a global community of partners. With Syncplicity at the heart of our digital collaboration strategy, we are equipping our teams to continue their pioneering work from any device and any location.”