United Way of Greater Atlanta

Protects virtualized data centers with comprehensive security to help ensure business continuity

Overview

With more than 200 staff members at eight offices and 20 remote call center agents, United Way of Greater Atlanta is one of the largest United Way organizations in the country. It invests $100 million annually in more than 200 programs. The non-profit organization focuses on programs that help children succeed in school, help families become financially stable, improve health outcomes for people of all ages, and reduce homelessness.

An IT team of 10 people handles every aspect of IT for the organization, from technical support to engineering. To improve the efficiency of the data center and cost-effectively scale services during the busy season, United Way of Greater Atlanta switched to a VMware virtual environment. Most of the year, the primary data center hosts 80 virtual machines.

However, during the fund drive, that number increases to as many as 150 virtual machines. To support its seasonal staff, United Way of Greater Atlanta introduced virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), managed by VMware View®.

Challenges

Each year, the fundraising campaign increases demands on the organization’s data center and infrastructure. Virtual servers and VDI enabled a cost-effective and flexible model that allowed the IT team to meet these demands. However, traditional security did not adequately protect this new environment.

According to Williams, “Communications would be impacted every time security updates were pushed out and we realized that our agent-based endpoint security was not going to scale in our virtual environment.”

In addition, business continuity is crucial to United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We are a community organization and need to be available in the event of a disaster,” said Williams. To remain operational at all times, the organization needed to extend security to its remote disaster recovery site.

"Deep Security is as proactive as you could possibly get, and it gets us to resolution in the fastest possible way.

Orinzal Williams,
executive director of IT,
United Way of Greater Atlanta

Why Trend Micro

The IT team thoroughly researched security for VMware environments. A wealth of online information and YouTube video tutorials piqued their interest in the Trend Micro™ Deep Security™ solution. “A Trend Micro reseller in Atlanta helped us with our evaluation process,” said Williams.

“After discussions, a webinar, and follow-up with a technical expert in the region, we decided that Trend Micro Deep Security was the product that we wanted

Solution

First, the IT team installed VMware® vShield™ and built the foundation for hypervisor-level security. Following that step, Williams was able to quickly install Deep Security. “It took about eight hours start to finish—and that was just me doing the installation,” said Williams.

United Way of Greater Atlanta installed four Deep Security capabilities: anti-malware, web reputation, firewall, and log inspection. The installation went smoothly, and the rules were configured to enable the best protection without hindering employee productivity. “In the technology industry, you see a lot of over-promising and under-delivering,” said Williams. “Not the case with Trend Micro! I love Deep Security. It runs really well and it does everything as advertised. I’m very happy with it.”

Deep Security detects and removes malware from virtual servers in real time with minimal performance impact. It uses the Trend MicroTM Smart Protection NetworkTM infrastructure to collect global threat intelligence on emerging threats. “It’s wonderful that Trend Micro gathers intelligence in a proactive manner. Thanks to Trend Micro, we didn’t have any issues with Heartbleed vulnerability last year,” said Williams.

The IT team witnessed Deep Security in action when a user downloaded a screensaver virus onto the main file server. “Deep Security was able to detect the attack and stop it—the virus was literally frozen in its tracks. It was isolated and that was it. Most viruses start by looking for the antivirus software and disabling it. With Deep Security, there is nothing to disable. The protection is outside of the virtual machine,” said Williams.

With traditional security, this attack would have taken down the server and corrupted files, but not with Deep Security. “With Deep Security, threats are stopped, and the bulk of the server is still viable and in use while the threat is managed. Hypervisor-level security really works,” Williams added.

Deep Security integrates with the recently installed Trend MicroTM Smart Protection Suite to simplify management of all layers in the security landscape. United Way of Greater Atlanta is now able to take advantage of this integration with the recent addition of Trend Micro Smart Protection Suite for endpoints. In addition, Trend MicroTM Deep SecurityTM Management Pack for vRealize Operations gives the virtualization operations team the ability to see virtual machine security status and operational status from a single view.

"I can say with confidence to our board that the combination of Deep Security and Smart Protection Suite ensures we are taking all the necessary steps to make our environment secure.

Orinzal Williams,
executive director of IT,
United Way of Greater Atlanta

Results

Prior to deploying Deep Security, United Way of Greater Atlanta had five VDI hosts and 10 other hosts for server activity. With the increased efficiencies of the new agentless security deployment, the organization has been able to remove two of the VDI hosts and four server hosts. The biggest efficiency gains have been seen on the server hosts. “The server never gets above 10 percent utilization. The system remains efficient even when we have scheduled scans,” said Williams, who no longer has to contend with slowdowns during full system scans and antivirus pattern updates.

“We love the robustness of Deep Security and its ease of use,” said Williams, who cited the value of a recent Deep Security alert. When a staff member unintentionally moved a production machine to a test/dev host that wasn’t under the protection of Deep Security, Williams immediately received a Deep Security alert advising him that the virtual machine was no longer protected. The clear notification allowed him to promptly move the machine back to the production server. “Deep Security is as proactive as you could possibly get, and it gets us to resolution in the fastest possible way,” said Williams.

The United Way maintains an off-site disaster recovery data center and Deep Security automatically extends to these remote, virtualized servers. “Even if our central Deep Security server goes offline due to a power outage, the agents on each host still operate to defend the virtual machines. If we switch over to our remote site, we know that we can still support our community without worrying about attacks,” said Williams.

With Trend Micro, Williams knows there is excellent support when he needs it. “I’m really happy with Trend Micro support,” said Williams, who has only issued five support tickets since implementing Deep Security. “The fact that we’ve only had five support tickets – and none for upgrades – is a testament to the reliability of Deep Security,” Williams added.

"Deep Security is as proactive as you could possibly get, and it gets us to resolution in the fastest possible way.

Orinzal Williams,
executive director of IT,
United Way of Greater Atlanta