Case Study | Re-imagining Employee Data Access, Collaboration and Security.

When faced with the challenge of remote access to SMB files and disparate Cloud Silos, civil engineering firm TNP (Teague Nall and Perkins) chose the File Fabric to simplify and consolidate their file and storage access.

CHALLENGE

Teague Nall and Perkins, Inc. (TNP) is a professional civil engineering, surveying, and landscape architecture firm with seven offices across Texas and Georgia. The firm has built a long-standing reputation for providing quality designs and responsive services to their clients.

TNP uses the Nasuni file services platform, which provides an SMB interface to object storage data stored on Azure.

Their business processes involve frequent collaboration and data exchanges with contractors, partners, and clients. Over the years, the firm used different tools to collaborate and eventually settled on Egnyte and DropBox. To use these platforms, users had to copy data to and from their on-premises file servers.

Business processes naturally drive updates to these documents which means multiple iterations of documents are moved back and forth across their diverse data silos: Nasuni, Egnyte, and DropBox.

Frustration and inefficiencies developed as TNP team members were forced to spend time resolving which version of any given document were correct, with multiple versions of the same document in those various data silos.

USE CASE AND SOLUTION

The information technology team, headed by IT Director Todd Dughman, decided there had to be a better approach. He wanted to be able to collaborate directly from the files on their Nasuni environment. He further wanted a single source of truth that would eliminate the needless process of copying files to another platform before they could be shared.

Collaborating directly from Nasuni would provide several other benefits – particularly relating to security. It would consolidate audit and reporting onto a single platform while also allowing authentication and authorization directly from Active Directory.

After an evaluation, TNP elected to migrate their collaboration data to the Enterprise File Fabric. One of the deciding factors for Todd was the File Fabric’s tight integration with Nasuni. The company was able to use the existing Nasuni NTFS ACLs (access control lists) to enforce permissions for data access and allowed for a rapid implementation.

The installation of the software appliance on Azure was quick and straightforward. TNP was able to deploy the File Fabric into their Azure environment right from the Azure Marketplace. It enabled TNP staff to access their data regardless of their office location. TNP elected to restrict user access to data for the File Fabric’s rich functional web user interface which encompasses more capabilities than are available in either Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. These include the ability to preview files without having to open them, right clicking on any file or folder to facilitate collaboration, PDF annotation, commenting on documents, and many more.

The transition for end users was quite easy because they were already accustomed to a web interface on previous collaboration tools.

Transitioning the active collaboration files from Egnyte to Nasuni was facilitated using the File Fabric’s single pane of glass access, which supports over 60 data sources. TNP was able to use the File Fabric to drag and drop data residing in Egnyte into the Nasuni environment.

As the pandemic evolved and more of the staff had to work from home, TNP moved to deploy Microsoft Teams for collaboration. The company was able to leverage the File Fabric Microsoft Teams integration which enabled direct user access to File Fabric managed Nasuni data directly from the Teams application providing the ability to collaborate and share files via links to files residing in Nasuni rather than  uploading into Teams directly.

An improved consolidated security model based on an existing Active Directory infrastructure was a key decision point for TNP. With the File Fabric, end users leverage their existing credentials, including additional two-factor authentication supplied by the File Fabric, for access to their data.

Authenticated third-party partners and customers use the File Fabric’s separate SAML authenticated access to access to shared partner folders. All access to the data under management is logged in a detailed audit trail that TNP maintains for audit and compliance purposes. The result is a single source of truth for both security, data access, and collaboration.

TNP will continue to leverage the features that the File Fabric providers and will shortly deploy the content search capability of the File Fabric. This feature will index the content of all documents, Office, PDF, text files, etc. to enable end users to search and find files by content, tags, and metadata. The search is similar to having a private search engine for corporate data behind the firewall. Importantly, those search results are constrained to only data for which a user has permissions. For example, an engineer search for files that contain his name will see files in his home and shared directories but will not see files containing his name in the HR folder.

RESULTS

Thomas Barnhardt, the engineer responsible for deploying the File Fabric, said I really appreciate the SME support team. They were a big factor for me as we went forward in the process of the migration, configuration and implementation.

For TNP consolidation of data to Nasuni and security to Active Directory on the File Fabric has been the key to streamlining internal and external collaboration processes, while making life easier for TNP staff and the IT team in particular. Now we don’t need to juggle data across multiple platforms. I am incredibly happy with the outcome,said Todd Dughman.

 

You can download this case study here.

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