Huddle: Productive Collaboration, Optimum Security
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Huddle: Productive Collaboration, Optimum Security

Mark Wrighton, CEO, HuddleMark Wrighton, CEO How can multiple government agencies collaborate seamlessly together while working on large‐scale projects or programs? In such scenarios, there’s typically a large volume of documents to manage, with multiple stakeholders making contributions, peer-reviewing, and approving content. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know that things can get complicated quickly, creating confusion and delays. Much of the challenge comes from the lack of shared IT infrastructure.

The result is multiple versions of the same documents being created, shared and stored in different network drives, as email attachments, or worse, on unsecured USB flash drives or consumer-grade file sharing apps. Ultimately, the ability to centrally control document access, control revisions and manage approvals, is lost. Not only does this become a logistical nightmare for anyone trying to coordinate the project, but it also presents an enormous security risk.

To ensure efficient program delivery, multi-agency teams need a secure shared environment. Somewhere that project participants can go to access and review content. And somewhere that coordinators can control user access and document security. “Too often, when we engage with our government clients, we find them struggling to collaborate around content. In many cases, teams have just given up and have defaulted to using non-mandated file sharing and messaging apps under the radar of the IT team,” explains Mark Wrighton, the CEO of Huddle.

As the most trusted solution for file sharing and document collaboration in government and public sector organizations, Huddle has many years of experience helping teams to overcome the challenges of secure multi-agency collaboration. It counts government agencies including USAID, NASA, FAA, FRA, DoD, NIST, and NIH as users.

Huddle is a cloud-based solution where teams can work together in secure project workspaces. Because it’s cloud-based, it sits above existing IT infrastructures and keeps project members automatically synchronized to the latest activity, document changes, and team discussion. “We’ve found that that the key to successfully deploying a cloud‐based service is accounting for the unique technical, organizational, and procedural issues of the individual organization,” adds Wrighton.

“Once you understand this, a tool like Huddle can dramatically improve performance and productivity of government projects and program delivery, reduce the costs, manage the security risk, and address the overlap between services.

The power of collective knowledge is becoming increasingly important across Government agencies and Huddle has an important role to play

“We’re also finding that a tool like Huddle can have a massive impact on what we call ‘collective enterprise knowledge’. That’s all of the knowledge that exists across government agencies and teams. Today, much of this knowledge sits untapped in silos across the organization, whether that’s on a user’s desktop or in their email account. It’s only when you use Huddle to start sharing and working together that this knowledge becomes accessible to the wider team.”

One example is NASA. Huddle allows its NuSTAR team members to work together on draft reports before sharing with working groups for review and comment. This includes capturing user edits, along with all comments and document versions, which are retained in a single location for future reference. Brian Grefenstette, a research scientist at the Space Radiation Lab at Caltech, saw immediate benefits. “Huddle enables us to work together more efficiently. We quickly discovered it’s much better to post to Huddle than to use email, which creates unwieldy chains 50 messages long and with large 40Mb attachments—they’re a nightmare!”

Huddle comprehends that the challenge isn’t as great as it might seem, and not nearly as expensive as many of the legacy solutions available today might suggest. “Unlike other tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, Huddle is incredibly easy to configure and use, while still complying with the government security standards. In fact, Huddle was the first SaaS collaboration vendor to achieve FedRAMP Authority to Operate (ATO) in the U.S,” says Wrighton.

The features and functionality that Huddle delivers through its collaboration platform, along with best-in-class security, make it a natural fit for public sector and government agencies looking to improve their productivity, and keep track of how documents are being used and changed.

A Focus on Security

What really differentiates Huddle is their relentless pursuit toward building a secure environment of exceptional collaboration. “We are always looking to balance the needs of the user, with the demand for best-in-class security,” adds Wrighton. “Teams can create customized project workspaces that connect them with people outside of the government agency’s’ firewall in minutes. And, in over a decade of work with U.S government we’ve been without incident.”

For Huddle, this assurance and reputation have been a real door-opener and one that has led to the solution being favored by many government departments looking to reduce risk and improve security when sharing and managing documents, coordinating multi-agency projects, and working with external partners.

The company achieved FedRAMP accreditation in 2015, and a year later was the first to achieve FedRAMP Revision 4 Authority to Operate.

“At Huddle, high standards of security management have been at the heart of everything we have done since our inception, and, free from the burden of bolting on security as an afterthought, we have always been able to provide industry‐leading levels of security to our government clients,” mentions Wrighton.

A Reliable Collaboration Solution

As a FedRAMP accredited collaboration platform, Huddle ensures that the government’s requirements for cloud computing security controls, including vulnerability scanning, incident monitoring, logging, and reporting are all met in order to encourage confidence and trust among users. “Our U.S. data centers are certified to the highest standards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, while adhering to strict certifications spanning access control, data encryption, and threat protection,” says Wrighton.

"At Huddle, high standards of security management have been at the heart of everything we’ve done since our inception"

People, Content, Actions

Huddle addresses the needs of a modern workplace by operationalizing the content silos existing across a government body. While the platform enables people to share, discover, and work on content wherever, whenever, and with whoever they need to, it also delivers useful integrations to be leveraged by the clients. “It can be easily integrated into the existing enterprise stack, including desktop applications and even SharePoint,” adds Wrighton. The API provided by the company is a simple HTTP service, which allows users to build applications and mash‐ups using the powerful Huddle developer API.

Huddle allows O365 users to open documents stored in Huddle directly into Office Online, and, through the Huddle for Office add‐in for Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, the platform also delivers the capability to integrate with various Microsoft Office desktop applications. Huddle’s plug‐in not only adds ‘Save to and open from Huddle’ options to Microsoft Office but also allows users to sign‐in to Huddle straight from Word, Excel or PowerPoint without having to open the browser.

Founded in 2006 with a single, clear ambition to help people work better together, Huddle has come a long way in delivering a practical, efficient solution for effective collaboration on documents. The company’s product strategy is based on providing a secure, complaint, and performant platform, which delivers best‐in‐class user experience with a focus on three key areas: People, Content and Actions, and will continue on the same path in the near future.

“As a key to unlocking productivity and increasing knowledge sharing, the power of collective knowledge is becoming increasingly important across Government agencies, and Huddle has an important role to play,” informs Wrighton. To this end, cloud computing is indeed playing a major part in achieving greater efficiencies and improving government service delivery. While traditional infrastructure spend once meant paying for reserve capacity, it is likely that Huddle will significantly improve asset utilization and reduce risk by scaling with the public sector’s demands.