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IM and Backup Solutions Increase Security, Save Time, and Lower Costs

June 10, 2008


Media General, Inc. protects its network from malware and streamlines productivity with a solution for managing instant messaging and backups


Media General, Inc., a media conglomerate based in Richmond, VA, owns 25 daily newspapers, more than 150 other publications, and 23 network-affiliated television stations. In recent years the company has experienced a tremendous increase in the amount of data being managed and backed up, particularly email traffic. Because the company needs to deliver content 24x7, they rely heavily on technology to help staffers communicate with each other and the world. One technology, instant messaging (IM), was a natural choice to streamline communications among employees. But the company wanted to ensure that employees using IM wouldn't inadvertently bring in malware that could threaten the security of their network.

Enhancing communications without compromising security

In 2001 Media General's Interactive Division decided to install AOL Instant Messenger to boost employee productivity by allowing staff members to communicate quickly and efficiently. Mike Miller, Director of Support Services for Media General, was worried from the outset because he had read about how IM could open the door to viruses. "If a virus were to shut down the systems running our network," explains Miller, "we might not be able to get a newspaper out the door or keep a station on the air."
Miller had heard about Symantec IM Manager, and when he learned that it was the only nonproprietary solution at the time that could manage, secure, log, and archive IM traffic, he decided to give it a try. Media General now uses IM Manager to define access rights, prevent unauthorized access, block corrupted file attachments, scan for viruses and malicious code, and log 90 days worth of IM traffic. IM Manager also provides interoperability among various networks, including public networks—an essential requirement for a media company. An added bonus is that IM Manager is nearly transparent to end users.
Since deploying IM Manager, Media General hasn't had a single instance of infiltration from viruses, worms, or Trojans. "I've heard stories about problems other companies are having," Miller says. "But thankfully, we haven't experienced any of those issues because we blocked malware from the beginning." IM Manager logs have also been helpful in satisfying legal discovery and regulatory compliance requests.

Getting a Handle on Data Growth

Media General maintains approximately 400 servers that were rapidly being filled to the limit with stored data, mainly because of the explosive growth in email traffic. Between 2005 and 2006, the amount of stored data increased by 50 percent. Until 2005, the company was conducting daily backups from disk to tape, and backups had become an around-the-clock operation. Server restores from tape took an extraordinarily long time and impacted employee productivity, and overlaps between backup jobs and server restores only made the problem worse. "Sometimes a backup would start while a restore was in process, cancelling the restore operation and forcing us to restart it and kill the backup until the restore was completed," explains Miller.
When the IT staff reached the point where they couldn't back up anything else because they didn't have time and there was no additional tape storage, Media General began researching the disk-to-disk backup solution from Symantec. So far the company has backed up eight terabytes of data to disk, after migrating 70 of its Windows servers and some Linux servers to disk-to-disk backup using Backup Exec. Data is moved to tape offline during the workday to avoid impacting the IT staff production schedule.
Using Backup Exec, Media General was able to consolidate 30 Microsoft Exchange servers into a few "super" Exchange servers, both to reduce hardware and licensing expenditures and to compress and store a huge volume of email on just two servers. Backup and restore windows shrunk dramatically, freeing up IT staff time. "In an environment where our network is free only from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., the shortened backup is essential to us," says Miller. Backup Exec has improved application availability by 88 percent, improved productivity by 50 percent, and eliminated the need to hire an additional IT staff person to handle backups. Because of decreased demand on its tape library, Media General also avoided the purchase of additional tape drives and media. As a result, the time to payback for the Symantec solution was less than one year.
"Symantec's solutions allow us to focus on delivering content to our readers and viewers, rather than worry about network security and data protection," explains Miller. "Symantec provides solid, reliable products and big-company staying power that we find invaluable."
For more information, click here to read the full Success Story about Media General, Inc.

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