Nine Entertainment Co.

Production Room
As Australia’s most diversified media and entertainment group, Nine Entertainment Co. (formerly PBL Media Pty Ltd) is a communications powerhouse that delivers media information and entertainment to millions of Australians.

Web Is the Critical Application

As a media company, Nine Entertainment Co. regards the Web as one of its most important applications. From Web-based business applications to software as a service to streaming media, Nine Entertainment Co. relies on the Web as part of the daily course of business, and it must always be on.

“I run an operations team and our reason for being is to make sure these services are running at all times,” said Garry Clarke, IT Systems Manager at Nine Entertainment Co.

User Access Issues Drive Search for New Solution

As Nine Entertainment Co.’s business expanded, the IT team found that its existing Web security solution struggled to meet the growing need for visibility, security and performance. Additionally, it lacked centralised policy management and robust user reporting.

Part of the problem was that the previous solution was software-based, which made it more complex than it needed to be. A lack of reliability created user access issues to key critical Web services.

“We need a combination of security and performance. We didn’t want one without the other,” said Clarke. “A generic server will usually have more issues with patching and a greater susceptibility to security threats, but an appliance will always be performance tuned and security hardened.”

When the three-year contract on their existing Web security solution was ending, Nine Entertainment Co. began looking for a solution that didn’t compromise security for performance.

Web Security without Compromising Performance

Following an evaluation of four appliance-based solutions, Nine Entertainment Co. selected the Blue Coat Secure Web Gateway solution and deployed ProxySG appliances with Blue Coat WebFilter at 10 hub sites across Australia, Southeast Asia and New Zealand. At its headquarters, the IT team deployed the Blue Coat Director platform and Reporter for centralised management, configuration and reporting.

“When we deployed the ProxySGs, we saw an immediate improvement in performance and reliability,” said Clarke. “Our users had consistent, reliable access to the Web services they need to do their jobs.”

Flexible Policy Creates More Efficient Workforce

ProxySG appliances provide Nine Entertainment Co. with a priority and rule-based solution that simplifies the process of defining and changing policies across the organisation. The previous solution was restricted to a group membership model that made it difficult to craft the granular policies required to empower a diverse workforce like the one at Nine Entertainment Co.

" I have a team of four senior systems engineers, and it would take them a few hours a week to deal with change requests. Now it is zero. Now we don't ever get contacted."- Garry Clarke, IT Systems Manager

With Director, Nine Entertainment Co. is able to maintain policy control, roll out changes to configuration or policy, audit and report all from a central platform at HQ. The ease of control has significantly reduced the cost of ownership, in terms of management and administrative time.

“We can do allows and denies based on different types of content or make one-off exceptions and certain hours can be restricted,” said Clarke. “And it all is tied into Active Directory.

“It was frustrating how the previous solution was not flexible enough. We couldn’t create policies that were granular enough, so we always ended up compromising,” said Mike Mallos, IT Infrastructure Manager at Nine Entertainment Co. “With Blue Coat, it is easier to make sure every employee gets exactly what they need because we can be more granular with access. It is all easier to do with Blue Coat.”

IT Moves from Policeman to Business Enabler

Increasingly, the IT team had been forced to play the role of policeman, making decisions about what type of content to block and what to allow. With the change in its Web security solution, Nine Entertainment Co. had the opportunity to rethink its policies.

“IT has become the policeman when really policy creation should be business decisions,” said Mallos. “Deploying the Blue Coat solution gave us the opportunity to re-evaluate our approach and build new policies from scratch.”

To help define policies that would enable the business, Nine Entertainment Co. utilised Blue Coat Reporter to understand how the Internet was being used. Responding to a request from management, the company was able to fine-tune its policies for social networking sites. For employees in some departments, access wasn’t critical to their day-to-day jobs. For editors and journalists, though, it was very important. Using the Blue Coat ProxySG appliances, Nine Entertainment Co. is able to set granular policies for those specific groups.

Delegated Responsibility Reduces IT Administrative Workload

Policy changes with the previous solution often wouldn’t take effect for hours unless the system was reset.

With the Blue Coat Secure Web Gateway solution, policy changes take effect immediately. For example, the team can add a new user to an established group and that user has immediate access to all allowed content. As a result, Nine Entertainment Co. has now fully delegated administration of policy exceptions to the internal IT Helpdesk.

“I have a team of four senior systems engineers, and it would take them a few hours a week to deal with change requests,” said Clarke. “Now it is zero. Now we don’t ever get contacted.”

Protecting Users from Web-based Threats

By deploying the ProxySG appliances at its Internet gateways, Nine Entertainment Co. also participates in the cloud-based Blue Coat WebPulseTM service, a community of 70 million users that provides on-demand security intelligence about new Web content, including malware and other Web-based threats. The discovery of malware by one member of the community immediately protects all other members, providing greater Web awareness and protection than any single entity could provide on their own.

For Nine Entertainment Co., that means that it doesn’t need to maintain defenses or databases to protect against emerging or evolving malware. “Realistically, the smarts are in the database, and we rely on Blue Coat to update it continually,” said Clarke. “Doing this through WebPulse just simplifies everything for us.”

Through Reporter, Nine Entertainment Co. tracks the malware that is being blocked by the ProxySG appliances. “We are now catching an increasing amount of nasty stuff. We read the reports and see that these are picked up,” said Clarke.

Added Functionality Drives Value

In addition to flexible policy creation, Nine Entertainment Co. also valued the added functionality that was embedded in the ProxySG appliances at no additional cost.

“Blue Coat has added a lot of functionality that we aren’t ready to use, like IPv6 in the gateway that can transition between IPv4 and IPv6 environments and users, but it is comforting to know they are working on these add-ons and making them available to us at no additional cost,” said Clarke. “Bringing these features into our network in the future would have otherwise been an additional cost to us, so there is a nice investment protection benefit with the Blue Coat solution.”

Nine Entertainment Co. are looking at deploying the Blue Coat ProxyClientTM software to protect remote workers from malware and other Web-based threats at no additional cost. With this client software, Nine Entertainment Co. will be able to consistently enforce corporate policies regardless of location.

Additionally, the ProxySG appliances include WAN optimization technology that can help limit the amount of infrastructure at remote sites while providing LAN-like performance. That same WAN optimization technology also delivered impressive savings for video traffic.

“The optimisation with caching was quite impressive,” said Clarke. “With things like streaming media you can immediately see the bandwidth savings on the reporting side.”

The Blue Coat Advantage

With policy flexibility, central reporting and reliable performance that doesn’t compromise security, the Blue Coat Secure Web Gateway solution allowed the IT team at Nine Entertainment Co. to fundamentally change its approach to Web filtering and security and transform itself into a business enabler.