When a major retail chain is hit by a data breach, consumers don’t necessarily stop purchasing from them. However, a breach at a non-profit organization could send donors and their contributions to a competing organization, tarnishing their brand reputation and hindering their goodhearted efforts.
Curious to learn more about the IT and security challenges non-profits face today, we spoke with Orinzal Williams, executive director of IT for United Way of Greater Atlanta an organization that each year raises $100 million in donations. The team consists of 10 people handling every aspect of IT for the organization from technical support to engineering. To support high seasonal workload and seasonal staff, United Way of Greater Atlanta introduced virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
What were the main drivers to switch to a VMware virtual environment?
We decided to move to a virtual environment to improve the efficiency of our data center and cost-effectively scale services during our busy season. Our peak season runs through our annual fundraising campaign and the demands on our data center and infrastructure are at their highest. For example, throughout most of the year the primary data center hosts 80 virtual machines, but during the fund drive we use up to 150 virtual machines. Moving to a virtual environment has helped us manage the work load more effectively.
Security is an important aspect for all businesses – what makes security for non-profit organizations so crucial?
In our work we help people in difficult life situations. Gaining their trust, as well as the trust of our donors, is crucial to our success. Our credibility and reputation need to be impeccable – and cyber security is a critical part in building and maintaining it. A data leakage could prevent people from donating, which would be a disastrous scenario for us and our programs! Also, as a community organization, we need to be available in the event of a disaster. To remain operational at all times, we needed to extend our security to our remote recovery site.
What aspects did you look for in choosing your security software?
Our team thoroughly researched security for VMware environments and decided Trend Micro Deep Security was the best product for us. Smooth and quick installation without reducing employee productivity was vital, and we were impressed that it only took about eight hours from start to finish. That was also with me doing the installation! Deep Security is as proactive as you could possibly get and, it resolves our potential problems in the fastest possible way.
What advice would you offer other organizations that are looking to protect virtualized data centers to ensure business continuity?
My first and foremost advice would be to do a thorough analysis of your needs and resources but, also possible vendors. In my years in the IT industry I have seen a lot of over-promising and under-delivering but, that was not the case with Trend Micro. Deep Security runs extremely efficiently and does everything as promised.
You mentioned efficiency gains earlier. What did you see in your case specifically?
We had five VDI hosts and 10 other hosts for server activity. Thanks to the new agentless security deployment, we were able to remove two of the VDI hosts and four sever hosts. We saw our biggest efficiency gains on our server hosts. They never get above 10 percent utilization and the system remains efficient even when we have scheduled scans. We love the robustness and reliability of Deep Security.