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Team collaboration and data flow in shipping rely on data sharing systems, and Microsoft SharePoint is one of the most widely used applications in this regard.
There is only one problem. Any IT manager who has tried using SharePoint out-of-the-box in a maritime shipping setting, knows this: It doesn’t work.
Sure, your onshore office works well with SharePoint – thanks to flawless network connection. However, as soon as you attempt to get SharePoint functionality to your ships at sea, the "usual suspects" – bandwidth restrictions, latency, transmission halts due to time-outs, connectivity outages – cause trouble.
So how has Dualog overcome these known challenges? Read on to find out how SharePoint users can now rely on the power of Dualog® Drive to transport data more efficiently across a large fleet or group of ships.
The latest version of our Dualog® Drive transfer solution now integrates with Microsoft SharePoint.
Configuration is done directly in the cloud. You need administrative privileges for the systems to connect. Once set up, Sharepoint sites and folders can act as either sources or destinations, and the solution will automatically transport documents to the correct location.
Can shipboard folders serve as sources for document transportation from ship to shore? Certainly. If the configuration is made in the Dualog® Drive portal, onboard folders can be sent from ships to select onshore locations.
As an example, when the ship's chief engineer prepares the daily noon report and it is set up in Dualog® Drive onboard, it is automatically transferred to a SharePoint folder onshore. Neither the chief engineer onboard nor IT personnel onshore need to handle anything manually. Effortless ship/shore data exchange!
The ability to define corporate cloud-based file-sharing tools as sources or destinations is a much-desired feature that will reduce manual intervention and allow for smoother data sharing across fleets.
SharePoint integrated with Dualog® Drive gives you the collaboration tools and features that Microsoft's platform offers, as well as the proven data transport capabilities of Dualog's maritime-optimised solution. Files will be distributed via satellite on the right carriers, with data compression, and with automatic failover in case of network failure.
Simply put, Dualog® Drive gives SharePoint a shot of steroids when it comes to data transportation in a maritime environment.
The integration between Microsoft SharePoint and Dualog® Drive provides many benefits to your IT department. First of all, you don’t have to install the Dualog® Drive client at your office location. Just like before, you and your team will work in SharePoint, enjoying its benefits as always.
Team members just add files to SharePoint folders like they always do, and the platform acts as a data source for the whole fleet or group of vessels. Let's say a new Ship Security Officer is hired. Once he has a SharePoint workspace and access to the corresponding folder, you can trust Dualog® Drive to transport all his documents to their rightful places across your fleet. Seamless collaboration in action.
The Dualog® Drive portal provides a full overview of all transfers between ship and shore at all times. Having confidence that data flows as expected, you can confidently say, "I have enabled my team to move documents across our fleet by using the file-sharing tool we are all familiar with."
In other words, you have enabled your organisation to “maximise the velocity of knowledge”, as Microsoft puts it.
If you use SharePoint, you're already familiar with the countless benefits the cloud-based solution offers, from easy file sharing and team collaboration to regulatory compliance and Microsoft-powered data security. You should be able to reap these benefits.
When Dualog® Drive is plugged in, it opens a whole new set of capabilities.
Dualog® Drive offers many benefits by itself, giving you more time to focus on your core business rather than on managing data transfers or coping with bandwidth bottlenecks.
Automatic rule-based data transfer tasks: One of the key strengths of Dualog Drive is its ability to automatically trigger data transfers based on select criteria like file name, file types, etc. In a set-and-forget manner, you can trust the system to send, e.g., all *.doc or *.xls files in a specific source folder and transport to any number of destinations. This ‘no-hands’ approach is saving IT departments hundreds of man-hours.
Automatic folder creation: With the SmartFolder™-feature, the service can be set up to automatically create folders based on select criteria, for example ‘Shipname’ or ‘IMO-number’. This is very useful when importing data from your fleet to a shore or cloud location, and you want to have an easily organised way of separating data per vessel.
Cutting-edge transfer technology, optimised for satellite: Dualog® Drive uses data deduplication, also known as intelligent compression. This means that file patterns are identified and treated as chunks of data, reducing the amount of data to be transferred and lowering bandwidth consumption.
Carrier-aware data transportation: SharePoint's lack of carrier recognition is one of the major reasons why it fails in a maritime environment. The system does not know what kind of network is being used to transport data, whether it is fibre, 4G, or satellite like VSAT or FleetBroadband. In contrast, Dualog® Drive knows exactly what carrier it uses, thereby optimising data transport in difficult conditions.
Compression: Dualog® Drive uses state-of-the-art compression methods and algorithms to handle even super-large files or large folder structures on any satellite connection.
Flexible setup with ship groups: Ships can be grouped by vessel typology, trade area, or any other factor that fits your operational demands. Ship groups are dynamic, and one ship can be a member of multiple groups. This makes it really easy to define, let’s say, a folder that shall only be distributed to your ‘LNG-fleet’ and not to the ‘Tanker-fleet’, and vice versa.
Full overview of all your transfers: Good information about ongoing and completed transfers is essential. You can quickly see task statuses through the Drive reports. If you need more information, you can drill down. You can also see if ships are online or not.
Would you like to use Microsoft SharePoint but are hesitant because you have heard that other shipping companies have failed in their attempts to enable shore to ship file sharing? Or have you already tried integrating your ships using SharePoint but have been unsuccessful?
The good news is that we have a new power couple to offer: SharePoint + Dualog® Drive. With this new integration, your organisation can leverage some of the cloud-only functionality of SharePoint, and take it to the next level.
Do you already use Microsoft SharePoint in your shipping company? If so, the Dualog® Drive plug-in can help streamline cross-departmental collaboration and reduce the workload on IT.
Kristian Olsen is a member of the Product Management Group at Dualog. A true Dualog old-timer, Kristian has served in several roles at the company, ever since it was founded in 1994. He holds a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Kristian likes to “get in the zone” both onshore and offshore, as he is an avid cross country skier as well as a windsurfer with several national championships under his belt.