2 page Case Study
Posted: 2/5/2013
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Earth Networks Environmental Company Simplifies Endpoint Protection with PC Management Tool

Home of the popular WeatherBug applications, Earth Networks provides atmospheric data through its vast global monitoring networks. Like many technology companies, many of its employees have the ability to operate their PCs remotely. The company had used third-party software that failed to provide PCs with the performance and protection required. In June 2011, it deployed Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management tool that simplifies how Earth Networks manages and protects PCs. It benefits from high-quality endpoint protection, reduced costs, and improved productivity.

Business Needs
Founded in 1993, Earth Networks provides comprehensive atmospheric data through the world’s largest weather observation, lightning detection, and greenhouse gas monitoring networks. “Our corporate slogan is ‘Taking the Pulse of the Planet,’” says Joel McCracken, Help-Desk Technician at Earth Networks. “We give people across the world data about atmospheric conditions and provide weather information and alerting so our customers can make timely decisions.”

Earth Networks also operates the popular WeatherBug line of apps and the websitewww.weatherbug.com. Earth Networks is headquartered near Washington, D.C., with locations in Mountain View, California; New York, New York; and Milan, Italy. Many of its employees work remotely.

Like many companies its size, Earth Networks relies on a small IT team to manage the company’s PCs, which run either the Windows XP operating system or the Windows 7 Professional operating system. Earth Networks used third-party endpoint protection software to keep PCs safe. “The PC management software we had been using was not effective and has relied on users to report any issues,” says McCracken. “If a PC had issues, we would have to enable a remote connection to the PC, apply updates, and verify that the machine was stable.”

When they couldn’t reach a PC remotely to install updates and applications, the IT staff sent users a CD or USB drive. Sometimes employees would send their PCs to headquarters for repairs. “It was a labor-intensive process to keep employees’ PCs running,” says McCracken. “Our WeatherBug applications rely on innovative technology, and we needed a better management solution.”

“Over the years, we lost faith in our third-party provider,” says Greg Long, IT Manager at Earth Networks. “We compared features and costs, and Windows Intune was the obvious choice.” In June 2011, Earth Networks chose to implement Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management solution that simplifies how businesses manage and secure PCs.

* The biggest savings we’ve realized is in freeing up our IT staff to … better serve our users, who are the lifeblood of our company. We can’t put a price tag on what Windows Intune has provided for us. *

Greg Long
IT Manager, Earth Networks

The company conducted a successful 30-day pilot program in which four IT employees tested the solution. Within one month, Earth Networks deployed Windows Intune agents, with endpoint protection, to all PCs. IT professionals remotely manage PCs from a single console through a standard Internet connection and a Microsoft Silverlight–enabled browser.

With Windows Intune, the company can monitor PC health, update and distribute software, provide endpoint protection, set security policies, and track hardware and software inventory. “We can force an update on remote PCs—and the process is invisible to the user,” says McCracken. “We also get alerts if a PC’s processor is running at a high level for a long time or if a hard drive is getting full.”

Windows Intune employs the same Microsoft Malware Protection Engine used by System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection. The company uses the solution to conduct twice daily scans on all PCs, and it does full scans weekly. “The solution is robust and stable and it doesn’t use much memory or processor power, so it doesn’t slow down PCs,” says McCracken. “At one point, we reported an incident that Windows Intune hadn’t detected, and within 13 hours, Microsoft had implemented a security update.”

Earth Networks intends to take advantage of the option available with Windows Intune to upgrade all managed PCs to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. It plans to use the BitLocker encryption feature in Windows 7 to automatically encrypt drives on which the operating system and data reside.

By deploying Windows Intune, Earth Networks has nearly eliminated concerns about endpoint protection, realized significant IT savings, and provided a high-quality PC management solution that promotes improved productivity.

Improved Endpoint Protection
Since it deployed Windows Intune, the company has experienced a 90 percent decrease in security-related issues. Earth Networks has confidence that Windows Intune is helping to protect its PCs, which significantly simplifies the management of its IT environment. “We went from having low confidence in our security program to trusting Windows Intune to provide a very high level of endpoint protection. We can now focus on implementing software, training users, and doing other tasks,” says McCracken. “It just makes sense to have Microsoft provide security for its own operating systems.”

Reduced Costs
By adopting Windows Intune, the company has reduced the costs of managing PCs. Its help desk receives 90 percent fewer support calls related to PC management. It’s also saving money by using the inventory tools in the solution to identify software that it no longer needs to license. “The biggest savings we’ve realized is in freeing up our IT staff to focus on higher value activities and better serve our users, who are the lifeblood of our company,” says Long. “We can’t put a price tag on what Windows Intune has provided for us.”

Increased Productivity
Earth Networks employees avoid downtime caused by PC health issues and trust that their computers are running optimally. “Our international sales force was concerned with security issues,” says McCracken. “By managing our PC environment with Windows Intune, we can ensure that they can conduct their business and operate their machines with confidence—no matter where they are in the world.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Profile

Earth Networks, operator of the popular WeatherBug® brand of mobile and desktop applications, gathers and analyzes atmospheric observations from around the world to provide early warnings of severe weather that help save lives and livelihoods.

Software and Services
Windows Intune

Vertical Industries
Other Services

United States

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Data Protection and Recovery

IT Issue
Cloud Services