Infront Sports & Media AG is an international sports marketing company that is famous across industry boundaries thanks to celebrity supervisory board members such as the German soccer legend Günter Netzer. With some 500 employees at the corporate headquarters in the Swiss town Zug and in 13 other subsidiaries, Infront promotes media and sponsoring rights for sporting events worldwide. In addition to its core business activities, the company also counts media production as well as services such as sports venue advertising, hospitality and event management to its repertoire.
The IT managers at Infront Sports & Media AG first looked into a next generation firewall last year when their existing routers were reaching their performance limits. The routers were made by one of the largest network manufacturers in the world and were out of support. A new solution was needed. It made sense to upgrade to a next generation firewall at this point in time. Alexander Maute, Director IT Infrastructure
Infront has relied on the NextGen Firewall F-Series appliances by Barracuda Networks now since early 2011 in order to protect corporate-wide communications between its distributed locations. With centralized management and a straightforward rollout of the infrastructure Barracuda left its competitors lagging way behind and scored a hat trick on top of this with excellent support quality.
“Support quality is of course only one consideration alongside the technical performance data – but it is an important one - as our past experience has shown. If, for example, locations are unattainable following a firmware release, then a decisive factor is the extent to which the manufacturer then works hard to help even his smaller customers”, says Roger Limacher, IT Manager at Infront. The Infront team began looking at alternatives in 2010, when the existing security hardware solution by a major international provider was nearing the end of its lifecycle. The requirements were defined in a classical system specification: The top priorities listed were centralized management and the smoothest possible rollout in view of the limited time available to the IT department which - with just four people - is responsible for the entire IT across the whole company. “We just don’t have trained IT staff onsite at any of our locations 24 hours a day. We can fall back on external IT service providers in some subsidiaries, but these experts aren’t on site immediately either.”, recalls Roger Limacher.
Barracuda Convinces with the Realworld Project
Different possible solutions were reviewed together with the IT service provider, including that of outsourcing the security to an external company. In the end the decisive factor was the practicality of working with the Barracuda Firewall: The Swiss ODLO Sports Group AG, one of the leading manufacturers of functional sports clothing and themselves a Barracuda user since 2009, gave Roger Limacher an insight into their security infrastructure. "The GUI appealed to us from the outset, especially the DrillDown functions down to the lowest level that guarantee very fast and effective troubleshooting. We also think that the definition of files for a new firewall is simpler than with other manufacturers: Files are created and exported, the firewall is then booted from a stick and can be incorporated into the centralized management straightaway”, explains Roger Limacher. “We were initially sceptical about whether or not this really does work so smoothly. And from our own experience today we can say: This is not just a sales argument, but that it really does work like Barracuda says."
Smooth Rollout & Time Savings
The infrastructure had to be converted quickly following the decision to switch to Barracuda. The first cluster at the headquarters in Zug was completed within two days. This was followed by the configuration and the dispatch of firewalls for Germany, Sweden, Finland and Italy. Non-technical staff conducted the appliance installation in the subsidiaries with telephone support from Zug. “Basically, this all worked absolutely perfectly. As soon as the appliances are on the network we can take over the management completely from our offices in Zug. In this respect I would now weight the importance of a straight-forward installation by non-technicians higher than we did in our intial specifications”, says Roger Limacher. The remaining locations were integrated one after the other and we were finished by June 2011. Clusters of the NextGen Firewall F600 are in place at the headquarters in Zug and in the largest subsidiary in Milan today, and the company uses a cluster of the NextGen Firewall F300 in Peking. Smaller locations are each connected via an NG Firewall F300 Appliance. All firewalls are managed centrally via the NG Control Center VC610 Enterprise in Zug. “It generally takes about one hour to complete the installation for a smaller subsidiary”, says Roger Limacher. “This includes starting the firewall, reconfiguring to centralized management as well as certain tests and the clearance for operations. We need roughly one man-day per week to manage the entire security infrastructure. Overall this is a tremendous time saving for us and an enormous advantage.”
- Roger Limacher, IT Manager, Infront
“It is Important for Barracuda to Know that we are Satisfied”
The smooth rollout is, according to Roger Limacher, not just attributable to the technical functionality of the appliances, but in particular to the commitment shown by the Barracuda employees: “In the critical project phases Barracuda came to Zug several times with highly expert technical staff and supported us with the ideal configurations, the cluster building etc. We really noticed how important it was for Barracuda to know that we are satisfied. We repeated these positive experiences later on again with the support.”
The European headquarters and the support at Barracuda are located in Innsbruck, Austria, which means that we have to overcome neither time zones nor language barriers. “Local support has straightforward benefits even if all manufacturers promise 24x7 support. Clarifying very complex issues is so much easier in our native language - even more so if you have actually met the support staff in person too. It is also good to know that I can ask a support professional to come to us on site if I need to in urgent cases.”
Infront: Barracuda is the Right Decision
"Barracuda convinced us with its functionality and performance of the NextGen Firewall Appliances, with the commitment by employees and last, but not least, with a very attractive price", says Roger Limacher. "The requirements in our specifications have been fulfilled completely, and this is confirmed by our experience in daily operations. For us here at Infront, the decision to go with Barracuda has more than proved itself and we can definitely recommend this approach to other companies."
Protecting users, applications, and data for more than 150,000 organisations worldwide, Barracuda Networks has developed a global reputation as the go-to leader for powerful, easy-to-use, affordable IT solutions. The company’s proven customer-centric business model focuses on delivering highvalue, subscription-based IT solutions for security and storage. For additional information, please visit barracuda.com or follow us on Twitter@barracudaEMEA.
Barracuda NextGen Firewall F-Series Fast Facts
- Powerful next-generation network firewall
- Intelligent traffic regulation and profiling
- Centralized management of all functionality
- Deep application control
- Comprehensive, built-in IDS/IPS
- Tightly integrated QoS and link balancing
- Template-based and rolebased configuration
- Built-in web security (model F100 and higher)