TappIn Offers Small Business Alternative to Cloud Computing

Wednesday Dec 21st 2011 by Thor Olavsrud
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Prognosticators say that 2012 will see people juggling more mobile devices than ever before. It's time for business owners to get savvy about leveraging mobile for small business.

The increasing ubiquity of enterprise technology in the consumer space -- from smartphones and tablets to cloud computing -- means that work life and personal life will continue to converge in 2012, predicts Parvez Anandam, chief technology officer of TappIn.

For small businesses, that means both an opportunity and the necessity of exploring new small business IT trends to get the most out of the technology available to them.

"In 2011 we saw an explosion of new technologies and new uses for established ones, from mobile to cloud," said Anandam. "The proliferation of these technologies, particularly in the consumer space, is driving the convergence of personal and professional life. In 2012, we expect to see this trend to come full circle as the convergence of work and personal fuels increasing consumer demand for the enterprise-class technologies that will enable a streamlined work-life continuum."

Anandam said that while 2011 was about the "consumerization of IT," 2012 is likely to be about the "IT-ization"of the consumer, as consumers adopt an increasingly complex array of technologies for their personal use, including smartphones, tablets and cloud computing infrastructures. These devices also offer a significant opportunity to leverage mobile for small business if users can make the data they need available when they need it.

"For the small business, the cloud is sort of half there," Anandam said. "It's not quite usable yet because small businesses have terabytes of data that they have in-house and can easily access when they're in the office."

And using cloud computing to store those terabytes can be a hefty expense. "If you look at the cost of a terabyte on Amazon, it's about $2,000 a year," Anandam said.

TappIn's answer is a digital content access and sharing solution that bypasses cloud storage. Instead, you download small-footprint software agents to your various mobile devices. As long as those devices are on and able to access the Internet, you can access data on any of your devices using any other mobile device you own.

"If you have a network-attached storage in your small business, the cost of having it always accessible is prohibitive," Anandam said. "TappIn provides an excellent solution for accessing all that information and making sure you can do it securely. We let you access it from any device you own."

The service allows businesses to share content between employees and customers. For instance, a photo shop or professional photographer could use the service to painlessly share thousands of photos with clients.

Anandam said he also expects to see users push for greater social privacy and security when it comes to social networking in 2012. For small businesses, that could mean greater concern for the ownership on content exposed through social networking sites like Facebook.

"We don't have to entrust Facebook with our actual content," he said. "TappIn lets you post a link to a TappIn folder on Facebook. When friends see the post, they click on the link and are taken to the content in a TappIn folder on your machine. The small business owner maintains ownership of the data, but still has access to Facebook."

TappIn, he said, hopes to push farther into the small business market in 2012 with the release of a forthcoming Professional Edition, slated for the first half of the year.

"Currently, we cache content that goes through us so that if you share a document with someone, then all the people that come back to look at that content access the cache," said Anandam. "But a small law firm might be leery of having its document exist anywhere beyond the endpoints. The Professional Edition will include the capability to turn on and off caching and encrypt the cache."

Anandam said TappIn is also working on a Salesforce connector that will allow users to access their content on Saleforce via TappIn.

The TappIn service is available in multiple tiers. The Lite edition is free. The Standard and Group editions add additional features at a cost of $9.99 per user per year.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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