The Walsh Group manages heavy construction projects across the United States. Employees need a reliable, secure browser to access applications on job sites and in the office. The Walsh Group standardized on Windows Internet Explorer 9, reducing
test and development time by 50 percent. With the browser’s configurable, enterprise-grade security policies, The Walsh Group can more confidently assure customers that their blueprints and data are safe.
Founded in 1898, the Walsh Group works in different sectors of the construction industry. This diversity is a key factor in its success: during the last 10 years, Walsh has grown its annual revenue from US$800 million to $4 billion. “When times change,
we stay ahead of the curve and adapt to new markets,” says Patrick Wirtz, Manager of Technology Innovation at The Walsh Group. “We take the same approach to technology investments. Keeping up with IT innovation means we can deliver the right tools to our employees
to stay productive and keep the business agile.”
At Walsh, most business applications are web-based, so employees can access their information at the office, at the job site, or while traveling. “The browser is important because having reliable access to information keeps the business fast and fluid,”
says Wirtz. “We are introducing building information modeling [BIM] software that takes sophisticated engineering models and renders them in a browser for crews onsite. To use this software, we need a browser based on standards such as HTML5 that offer great
Windows Internet Explorer has always been the corporate browser at Walsh. However, sometimes employees used Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for a faster user experience, so developers had to test line-of-business applications on more than one browser—and
the support desk handled too many browser compatibility issues.
||There is a competitive advantage to being able to tell customers, ‘With Windows Internet Explorer 9, we have the latest and greatest security features available to help keep your information safe.’
| Patrick Wirtz
Manager of Technology Innovation, The Walsh Group
The applications that Walsh employees use contain highly sensitive data, such as blueprints for military or federal government installations, or for building projects at major airports. “Security is at the forefront of everything we do at Walsh,” says Wirtz.
“A job site could be a construction zone on an interstate highway or at a correctional facility. To assure customers that we can keep their data safe, we need a configurable browser to set and manage security policies.”
For these reasons, The Walsh Group began deploying Windows Internet Explorer 9 in January 2012. The company liked how Internet Explorer 9 supports the specialized needs of an enterprise. The IT staff was impressed with the latest security features, such
as SmartScreen Filter, which blocks downloaded program files based on their safety reputation. For IT employees, the following tools are particularly useful: Tracking Protection, to limit browser activity with certain websites based on a Tracking Protection
List; Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Filter, to prevent fraudulent websites from accessing private information; and InPrivate Browsing, to give staff another level of protection when working on sensitive government contracts knowing that nothing will be saved
after the browsing session is completed. “These security features are doubly beneficial because we can configure them to meet our needs using Group Policy,” says Wirtz.
Walsh used Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to deploy Internet Explorer 9. The company plans to complete its deployment to all 2,400 employees by late July 2012.
“The deployment has been seamless,” says Wirtz. “We used our existing tools to push it out like any other Windows Update. This reinforces our valuation of Internet Explorer 9 as the best browser for the enterprise. We had one issue with existing application
compatibility—with our enterprise resource planning system. The Compatibility View mode took care of that, so we could use the system and still benefit from all the features of Internet Explorer 9.” Compatibility View mode improves the presentation of a website
that was designed for earlier versions of Windows Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer 9 is much faster than previous versions, so employees are no longer using Chrome or Firefox for data-intensive applications. “The hardware accelerated graphics in Internet Explorer 9 is fantastic for staff on the job site using BIM software,”
says Wirtz. “I know of no other browser that is able to do rendering of complex models using a directional graphics card.”
With Internet Explorer 9, The Walsh Group has a browser that is fast, reliable, and highly manageable—prerequisites for Walsh to deliver its critical line-of-business applications to employees working in offices and on construction sites.
Professional Grade Security, Manageability
Through Group Policy, Walsh IT staff can manage security settings in Internet Explorer 9 to help ensure employees’ browsing behavior doesn’t pose a risk to network security. Issues arising from cross-site scripting have disappeared, and IT staff is less
concerned about potential breaches now that they can turn on InPrivate Browsing. Says Wirtz, “There is a competitive advantage to being able to tell customers, ‘With Windows Internet Explorer 9, we have the latest and greatest security features available to
help keep your information safe.’”
The help desk is seeing a decrease in browser-related phone calls since the migration to Internet Explorer 9. “The latest browser has better malicious software blocking ability,” says Wirtz. “Before, help desk got multiple calls a week from users who had
been infected and that has slowed to a trickle as we roll out Internet Explorer 9.”
With Internet Explorer 9, employees enjoy faster page loads and a better user experience. Suddenly, their browser-based applications behave as if they were installed on their computers. “Better BIM performance will drive user adoption and save the company
money,” says Wirtz. “BIM is a less expensive way to deliver modeling information to employees than AutoCAD software. Now we have the browser to make that happen.”
One Browser Fits All
Thanks to the improved performance, employees are using Internet Explorer 9 exclusively for their browsing needs. Walsh developers are saving 20 percent in browser-related development and testing time. “We are thrilled that Walsh can finally just support
one browser,” concludes Wirtz. “We have had outstanding user acceptance for Internet Explorer 9. Everyone’s happy.”
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