2 page Case Study
Posted: 5/16/2013
Rate This Evidence:

Sohu.com Internet Company Evaluates Messaging Solution to Improve Security and Reduce Costs

Headquartered in Beijing, China, Sohu.com provides Internet services such as search, advertising, and online gaming. Employees use email for business-critical communication, so the company’s messaging solution must be highly available and secure. Recently, Sohu decided to evaluate upgrading to Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 to help improve messaging compliance, ensure high availability, and reduce hardware costs and administration.

Business Needs
Sohu.com is one of China's premier online brands and is indispensable to the daily lives of millions of Chinese, providing a network of web properties and community-based products. Sohu offers its user community a broad array of choices regarding information, entertainment, and communication. Sohu also built one of the most comprehensive matrices of Chinese-language web properties and proprietary search engines, consisting of the mass portal and major online media destination www.sohu.com.

At Sohu, email is the most efficient means for employees to communicate with each other and with customers. Employees also use email for record-keeping purposes to track communication for projects. For these reasons, Sohu must have a highly available messaging solution that also provides robust compliance features. Therefore, it deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and uses Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 for backup.

* By using native Exchange Server 2013 features such as Data Loss Prevention and eDiscovery, we can reduce costs for information security protection by retiring third-party applications. *

Garry Zhang
IT Director, Sohu.com

Sohu relies on Exchange Server 2010 to support 4,000 employees who use Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or Microsoft Outlook Web App to view and manage email, calendars, and contacts. Mobile employees use Exchange ActiveSync to manage email and calendars from their mobile phones. Sohu also deployed Exchange Unified Messaging, so employees can access and respond to voice-mail messages through Outlook or Outlook Web App. For real-time communications, Sohu deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2010, and employees collaborate and manage documents through Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.

As an Internet company, Sohu is always interested in how the latest technologies can help it improve internal services to boost business. Most recently, it decided to evaluate Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 to understand how enhancements to the messaging solution could help the company improve high availability and compliance, in addition to reducing costs and administration.

Sohu deployed Exchange Server 2013 in a test environment at its main data center on two physical servers, each running a mailbox server role and a Client Access Server role. The mailbox servers are configured in a database availability group, and Sohu plans to keep two copies of the databases for disaster recovery and backup. IT staff at Sohu like using the Exchange Administration Center and the Windows PowerShell 3.0 command-line interface to perform administrative tasks and manage user configurations, and to migrate mailboxes between databases without taking them offline. It will also take advantage of role-based access control to enable certain administrative rights for help-desk staff.

Sohu is interested in the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) feature, which helps to identify, monitor, and protect sensitive data through deep content analysis. Administrators can use DLP templates to build DLP policies, a collection of transport rules and classification logic that apply specific filtering based on the company’s regulatory and business policy needs. For regulatory purposes, Sohu will use the In-Place Hold feature, which helps it to preserve email that matches specific query parameters. In addition, Sohu will use the In-Place eDiscovery feature, which enables it to search mailbox data across the Exchange environment, preview search results, and copy them to a Discovery mailbox.

Sohu will continue to use Information Rights Management (IRM) protection to provide persistent protection to email messages and attachments. It will also use retention policies in Exchange Server 2013 to purge outdated messages from mailboxes automatically. Administrators can configure item, conversation, or folder-level retention policies that appear in a message header and state the applied policy and delete date.

By evaluating Exchange Server 2013, Sohu was able to understand how the latest capabilities can help improve its Microsoft messaging environment and prevent private and sensitive content from being revealed.
  • Contain costs. By implementing mailbox server and Client Access Server roles on one server, Sohu can reduce the hardware footprint for its production deployment. “With Exchange Server 2013, we expect to host more mailboxes per server, which helps us reduce hardware and costs overall,” says Garry Zhang, IT Director at Sohu.com.

    Sohu also believes that it can reduce security costs. “By using native Exchange Server 2013 features such as Data Loss Prevention and eDiscovery, we can reduce costs for information security protection by retiring third-party applications,” says Zhang.

  • Ease administration. With fewer servers to manage, Sohu can reduce ongoing maintenance. By using role-based access control, the IT team can delegate some management tasks to help-desk employees, which enables IT to focus on more business-critical projects. The ability to perform online mailbox moves also means that IT can perform maintenance during business hours, instead of nights and weekends. Zhang adds, “We also like that the Exchange Administration Center is easy to access through popular browsers.”

  • Increase security and compliance. By using IRM protection and the DLP feature in Exchange Server 2013, Sohu can help ensure that employees cannot accidentally leak sensitive data. “Rights management is especially important to us, and with the IRM policies in Exchange Server 2013, we can use transport decryption for an additional layer of security,” says Zhang. The company can also help ensure compliance with legal guidelines by using the In-Place Hold and In-Place eDiscovery features.

For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 8000 employees

Organization Profile

Sohu.com is a Chinese Internet company headquartered in Beijing. It offers a search engine, advertising, online multiplayer gaming, and other online services. It has 8,000 employees.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Vertical Industries


Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Team Collaboration
  • Unified Communications
  • Data Protection and Recovery

IT Issue
Personal Productivity