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After months of waiting, Microsoft has announced that the new SharePoint Hub Sites intranet feature will be available to Office 365 subscribers by the end of this month. In October last, Microsoft MVPs Roger Haueter and Vlad Catrinesu suggested that it might not be available in the SharePoint 2019 release scheduled for later this year. This seems more and more likely as the announcement that was made earlier this week suggested that it will only be available to Office 365 cloud services subscribers using the SharePoint Online product.

SharePoint Hub Sites are a new intranet building block that brings together related sites to roll up news and activity, to simplify search, and to create cohesion with shared navigation and look-and-feel. Speaking at Ignite 2017 last year, Mark Kashman, senior product manager on the SharePoint team focused primarily on SharePoint Online, pointed out that Hubs is a response to the dynamic nature of digital workplaces.

“The digital workplace is dynamic and ever changing. Business goals and team structures evolve and change — often frequently. SharePoint helps your organization adapt, by connecting your workplace with intelligent content management and intranets that give you the tools to share and work together, and to inform and engage people across the organization. And now [with Hubs] it gets easier to organize your intranet dynamically,” he said in a blog post written during Ignite about Hubs. The version that is on the way this month enables:

  • Cross-site navigation – increased visibility of and navigation among associated sites
  • Content rollup – read aggregated news and discover related site activities
  • Consistent look-and-feel – establish a common theme to improve visitor awareness of connected sites
  • Scoped search – focus on finding content that resides within the hub site’s associated sites

In a piece earlier this months for CMSWire, Sam Marshall, owner of ClearBox Consulting explained how all this will pull together to build a digital workplace. “Imagine you have five regional sales teams each with a team site for collaboration, and two communication sites with news and updates. You can connect these to an overarching hub site as a gateway, without having to create the sites as a single hierarchical collection,” he wrote. It gives teams, then, the power to work together quickly and efficiently.

While great things are expected of the upcoming SharePoint release in terms of collaboration capabilities, the release of Hubs is a big step for enterprise teams. 

Dropbox Goes Public

After all the talk of the last few weeks, San Francisco-based Dropbox has finally gone public. While the markets had been rife with speculation that the company would launch at $18, or even $19 per share, it finally launched at $21 per share on Thursday, March 23rd, and sold 36 million shares raising $756 million.

The IPO was the biggest since the Snap IPO last year and didn't appear to have been impacted by the recent scandal over Facebook data harvesting by the UK-based Cambridge Analytica that has seen share the likes of Snap, Twitter and Facebook take a serious beating on the markets.

Even if the company valuation is now $8.2 billion, it is still lower than the $10 billion valuation it received in a 2014 private funding round at a funding round. However, the day after the launch shares were selling for $26 per share — up 40 percent — giving the company a market valuation of nearly $12 billion.

It’s not clear what is going to happen here. The data harvesting scandal that rocked the tech industry last week is going put it up to companies that store or share data to reassure users that their data is safe. That may be easier said than done and already Box shares were down 5.3 percent on Friday. It is not clear if this is related to the problems associated with Facebook, but one way or the other, there will be repercussions from the harvesting scandal.

Google Secures Productivity Suite

It may be just a coincidence but in the same week that was marked by the controversy surrounding the Facebook data harvesting, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has announced a series of new security features for G Suite, its productivity suite and Google Cloud that are designed to protect enterprise data.

If in the past, enterprises have been concerned about the security of the data, in the wake of what has just happened, this will once again push data security to the top of the list of ‘must haves’ that cloud storage providers need to offer to stay in business. In the past, many enterprises and organizations previously held concerns about how secure their data would be in the cloud, and this often caused them to drag their feet when it came to cloud storage. “From collaboration tools that accelerate productivity, to platforms that spur innovation, to AI-powered tools that drive better customer insights, the cloud is increasingly where we turn to transform businesses. It’s also where an increasing number of enterprises are turning to help protect their data and stay secure,” Gerhard Eschelbeck Vice President of Security and Privacy wrote in a blog post. In all, he added, there are 20 enhancements aimed to deepen and expand the control businesses have over their security environment.

It’s impossible to list all the improvements here, but one that is worth noting for digital workplaces is additional security for Team Drives, the shared cloud space in G Suite where members can store, search and access all data on a project. IT admins can now protect highly-sensitive data on Team Drives using Information Rights Management (IRM) controls, which means IT admins can now secure data from unauthorized access by encrypting them and only members with the right encryption key can access them.

VMware’s Intelligence-Driven Digital Workspace

Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware has also been busy this week. It added a number of new additions to its Workspace ONE which, it claims, will make Workspace the first intelligence-driven workspace that will improve users experience and provide security across the entire environment. The new Workspace ONE Intelligence, a new cloud-based service integrated with the Workspace ONE platform, combines aggregation and correlation of users, apps, networks and endpoints data. It also launched VMware Workspace ONE Trust Network that combines data and analytics from Workspace ONE with a new network of security partner solutions. Finally, VMware introduced Workspace ONE AirLift — a new Windows 10 co-management technology that will provide enterprises with better PC lifecycle management (PCLM).  “Empowered employees are at the heart of digital transformation. However, providing employees with the tools they need to improve productivity introduces operational complexity and increased cyber threats as apps, devices and networks proliferate and the security perimeter dissolves,” Sumit Dhawan, senior vice president and general manager of end-user computing at VMware said in a statement.

The new release responds to the problem of device visibility. For enterprises, one of the biggest challenges they face is visibility into what data is available, or stored, in what apps with the result that a lot of digital data is spread across an untraceable number of tools.

Intelligence is the building block of a smart, automated and secure enterprise. Until now, organizations have struggled to gain visibility across all end users, devices and applications as the data is spread across many systems and tools. This lack of visibility contributes to poor user experience, greater operational costs and a lack of proper security controls.

Workspace ONE Intelligence solves this by the aggregation and correlation of users, apps, networks and endpoints data. It also comes with a decision engine that uses the data to provide actionable recommendations and automation, enabling IT to fix workplace issues before they arise.

Colligo Releases Office365 Email Manager

Anyone that is using Office 365 should also be interested in the full release of Colligo Email Manager for Microsoft Office 365, an add-in that provides seamless and secure knowledge and records capture to Microsoft SharePoint for Office 365 deployments. According to Vancouver, BC-based Colligo, the add-in complements the advanced data governance features of Office 365 Security and Compliance Center. The new add-in enables workers to easily file emails and attachments to SharePoint on-the-go, from any device.

Adding metadata in the form of Microsoft SharePoint properties to content is a critical part of robust records and knowledge management. Colligo’s add-in facilitates capture of both the content and the associated properties to a centralized SharePoint repository. By making it simple and easy for workers to file emails from anywhere with rich metadata, worker mobility changes from a liability into a distinct advantage.