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Case Study

Learfield’s Success Story: Streamlined Secure Data Management

Case Study
Learfield’s Success Story: Streamlined Secure Data Management
  • Centralized management and IT-as-a-Service delivery of file services
  • Anytime, anywhere file access for branch office and roaming users through single file services platform
  • Server backup and built-in disaster recovery
  • Leverages existing cloud storage infrastructure
  • Reduced IT overhead/TCO over previous solutions

Company Background

Learfield Communications, Inc. was founded in 1972. Its Learfield Sports business unit is well-known across the collegiate sports media landscape. Learfield Sports has relationships with more than 100 collegiate properties nationwide, and its content reaches more than 50 million television households and can be heard on more than 1,500 radio stations. The company has 125 branch offices and nearly 1,000 employees across the United States.

The Challenge

Many Learfield employees travel extensively, working both in local offices and off-site at college sporting events across the country. They require fast access to various files and projects from any device or location in order to be fully productive. And while Learfield had deployed cloud-enabled file sync and share solutions in the past, its IT department sought a solution that not only would provide employees with anywhere, anytime access to the files they needed, but would also reduce administrative difficulties in managing hundreds of employees and 120 remote offices – numbers that Learfield expects will increase in the coming years as the business continues to grow.

Specifically, the solution needed to:

  • Provide fast and reliable anytime/anywhere file access for employees working on any device
  • Enable simpler, centralized management of NAS devices and user accounts to reduce IT management burden
  • Easily scale file access to new users and branch offices

In total, Learfield was searching for a solution that combined local storage and file sync and share capabilities with centralized management, while also enabling lower total cost of ownership (TCO) on branch office appliance and storage management costs.

The CTERA Solution

Learfield found its solution in the CTERA Enterprise File Services Platform, which it chose to deploy on its virtual private cloud (VPC) within Amazon Web Services (AWS). The CTERA configuration includes cloud storage gateway appliances installed at all Learfield branch offices, software agents and apps for file access and collaboration, and centralized, cloud-based management tools for IT administrators to manage services, users and connected devices. All of the data shared across user devices and gateways seamlessly syncs to the VPC, or firewalled resource, operated within AWS S3.

The CTERA-AWS powered solution enables Learfield employees to access and share files anywhere and from any device while reducing the administrative complexities of managing separate platforms for NAS and EFSS. Rather than require Learfield to engage multiple vendors for various enterprise file services, the CTERA platform delivers storage, data protection and collaboration capabilities in a single, cost-effective solution.

Learfield deployed CTERA’s cloud storage gateways, including CTERA’s 2–bay C200s and 8–bay C800s, in 125 offices, and issued CTERA Enterprise File Sync and Share licenses to 800 users around the country. The gateways serve as primary local office file servers as well as backup appliances for server backup, where all of the data is securely snapshotted, encrypted, compressed and de-duplicated before being centrally stored in WS S3.

CTERA’s platform is deployed in AWS EC2, and also allows Learfield to sync data from its Windows servers to AWS for fast file sharing with roaming users. The scalability of the CTERA and AWS platforms provide added flexibility as Learfield’s user and remote office base continue to grow.

learfield diagram 07 300915

The CTERA-powered solution enables to protect and easily recover files without needing to back up entire volumes and deal with complex, time-consuming recovery. The hybrid solution performs dual backup – first to a local appliance and then to the cloud. This provides fast local recovery for common data loss incidents, while adding off-site disaster recovery capability in case of a local disaster. While branch servers are fully backed up, employees have the ability to choose specific files from their workstations they want to back up. Data backed up to Amazon is encrypted at the source with private keys, so that only the IT department has the ability to decrypt it.

CTERA offers all of the features and functionality that are truly important to us. The centralized management capabilities enable IT to easily and effectively manage a distributed and growing network.

Phil Atkinson, VP of Information Technology

CTERA Enterprise File Sync and Share agents and apps are installed at Learfield workstations and mobile devices in single and multi-user mode, and allow direct integration with Active Directory. Learfield’s rapid growth means it must navigate complicated Active Directory permissions due to company acquisitions and independent data governance requirements. The CTERA platform provides a full range of service orchestration features, including integration with corporate Active Directory and single sign-on (SSO), allowing Learfield to easily authenticate and provision users, govern file access, and update service plans. All of Learfield’s data is protected and securely stored in its VPC on AWS to further minimize the need for on-site IT staff.

CTERA is also driving savings in Learfield’s storage costs. Because the CTERA platform is cloud-agnostic, Learfield is able to leverage its existing private cloud AWS infrastructure to deploy the platform and store user data. The “bring your own” virtual private cloud storage model drives significant cost savings over traditional on-premises storage solutions or SaaS services that charge a premium over the prices of IaaS offerings, which have fallen considerably in recent years and continue to decrease.

In conclusion, the CTERA File Services Platform provides Learfield a fully integrated, secure, and privately hosted solution to enable and govern collaboration across a widely distributed network. The CTERA hybrid cloud approach to IT-as-a-service delivery ensures centralized management and control over organizational file sharing and protection policies, driving efficiencies in IT management, increased data governance, and extensive savings in TCO.

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