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Case Study: Participant Media

Founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll, Participant Media is dedicated to producing media and entertainment that inspires social change. Participant Media has funded and helped to produce over 75 documentaries and feature films that have collectively earned over 50 Academy Award® nominations.

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At a glance

Before migrating their email and Active Directory, Participant Media faced numerous security concerns and problems with user experience. After working with NeoCloud, Participant Media enjoys greater data security in email and other apps, better employee collaboration through Office 365 tools and a network designed to fit their needs as a media company.

What they needed?

  • Easy-to-use secure and encrypted email
  • Stronger network security in email and other applications
  • Expanded email storage space for large media files

What they did?

  • Created a more secure and userfriendly active directory that optimizes single sign-on access
  • Migrated mailboxes to a secure Office 365 exchange server
  • Implemented Office 365 to prevent data loss, increase collaboration and improve user experience

What they accomplished?

  • Enhanced email and network security through stricter password requirements and single sign-on access
  • Increased collaboration and productivity through Office 365 apps
  • Advanced IT support through NeoCloud support services

 

“Working with NeoCloud, helped us go beyond email migration. They helped architect our network and our active directory, which in turn helped us increase our security.”


- Rich Santos, Director of IT at Participant Media

Business Description

Participant Media is composed of three divisions: filmmaking, digital advocacy and television. Each division works to raise social awareness through inspiring, real-life stories. Participant Media’s filmography includes award-winning films and documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc., Citizen Four, Spotlight, The Help and Lincoln.

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Challenge

After hackers broke into Sony Entertainment’s email accounts in late 2014, Participant Media began to shift their company culture around cyber security. Since the media company often works with individuals involved in social change, they needed to protect their sources’ privacy and ensure all emails were secure and encrypted.

At the time, Participant Media was using Microsoft Exchange 2007 hosted by Rackspace, a cloud computing company. Unfortunately, the version of Exchange they were using, was no longer supported by Microsoft, creating security, uptime and support problems.

They also had no easy way to ensure emails were secure. When sending secure emails, users had to use a completely different email domain and program. Sending encrypted emails needed to be easy for users to ensure it was done properly every time.

Their Microsoft Active Directory also posed security issues. With two different sets of credentials, one for the Active Directory and one for Rackspace, administrators could not require that users change their Participant Media passwords frequently or require difficult passwords, leaving their sensitive data vulnerable.

Because of the nature of their business, many employees were sending large files over email. As a result, many employees were hitting their 10 gigabyte storage limit on email accounts, leaving employees frustrated with the technical infrastructure and unable to complete certain tasks with ease.

Solution

After meeting with half a dozen information technology companies, Participant Media realized they needed more than a simple email migration. They needed to change up their directory system to improve security and give their users easy single sign-on access to email, apps and any other new technology they adopted.

Participant Media knew they wanted to use Office 365 software since their employees already knew how to use Outlook and felt comfortable with the Exchange experience. The software also offered benefits like easier enterprise software licensing and team collaboration with Skype for Business. They could also automate email encryption, helping them achieve better security.

It was vital to Participant Media that migration went as smoothly as possible, not disturbing the day-to-day activities of users. Out of all the partners they met with, they chose NeoCloud because of their years of experience, Gold Partnership with Microsoft and extra level of help desk support.

“We just wanted that partner that had so much experience that they could help guide us through,” Rich Santos, Director of IT at Participant Media says. “Getting the sense of professionalism and knowledge of the NeoCloud team put me at a higher level of comfort. When we got to turnover day, it was literally a non-event.”

Benefits

After the email and Active Directory migration, Participant Media has seen increased security and better end-user experience. From more mailbox storage space to single-sign on for a wide range of apps, NeoCloud helped Participant Media create a network that fits their needs.

IT administrators can now enforce stronger network passwords that have to change frequently. They’ve also been able to put data loss prevention tools into place that they could not have used with their outdated exchange services.

Since email is now working as it should, Participant Media is able to focus on the bells and whistles that Office 365 offers. They are upgrading users to Microsoft Office 2016 and have rolled out Skype for Business, increasing team collaboration through instant messaging.

In the future, Participant Media is looking to add more collaboration tools, replacing outdated options, such as using a shared calendar to book conference rooms. They are also helping employees better share resources, increasing productivity by keeping each employee up-to-date on the latest projects.

Both the IT department and Participant Media users are also enjoying increased support thanks to NeoCloud’s customer service. Whether they are facing issues with their computer or mobile device, users can find solutions to their problems quicker than ever.

“Having the extra help desk layer with Neocloud helps better our user experience,” Rich Santos says, “and, as an IT department, helps us create better value when we are servicing our clients.”