MSP Partner Solves Auto Dealer’s Bandwidth Crisis

Web Filtering Eliminates Waste and Keeps Users Focused on Productivity

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Summary

Jim Kramer founded Kramer Consulting, LLC in 1995, and has been building his business steadily ever since. With clients spread from Chicago to Louisiana, Kramer provides managed IT services to hundreds of mid-market customers.

Profile

  • Kramer Consulting
  • Based in Crestwood, KY, USA
  • IT Managed Services Provider
  • ~25 employees
  • Primarily focused on mid-market, nonprofit and professional service clients
  • Founded in 1995

Challenges

  • Auto dealership client faced maxed-out bandwidth
  • Multiple regulatory compliance challenges
  • Wished to avoid costly bandwidth upgrades

Solution

  • Install Barracuda Web Security Gateway to monitor web usage
  • Run month-long “secret” monitoring to establish usage baseline
  • Publicize results to incentivize cultural shift to reduce waste

Results

  • Avoided need to invest heavily to increase available bandwidth
  • Significant reduction in nonbusiness-related web usage

Auto Dealerships: A Challenging Business

Over the years, Kramer Consulting has developed a specialty providing services to auto dealerships throughout the company’s region. As Kramer describes it, the auto business presents unique challenges due to its complex business model. “Just imagine,” he says, “new cars, used cars, parts, service, finance. You’ve got one team to run five different businesses with vastly different price points, margins, volumes, etc. It’s a pretty crazy business.”

Regulatory compliance can also be especially challenging, says Kramer: “There’s PCI-DSS, of course. But they offer financing, so bank regulations like Sarbanes/Oxley come into play. And say a dealer supplies vans to a paratransit agency, then the ADA applies. Sell ambulances? Then HIPAA is part of your world.”

One of Kramer’s clients, a chain with nine dealership locations, came to Kramer with a problem. Their internet bandwidth was routinely maxed out, causing slow-downs and interruptions that affected business operations. Considering the lines they were paying for, they should have had more than enough bandwidth for their normal business use. They were very reluctant to increase operating costs by adding more capacity.

The Sting

The customer was already protected by several Barracuda security and data storage solutions, but they did not have any type of web gateway to monitor or restrict web usage. Kramer and the customer decided to install a Barracuda Web Security Gateway on the system, and to monitor web usage for a month—without informing the staff at the dealership.

After a month of monitoring, the results were shared with the staff. Social media was the top consumer of web bandwidth. After that came news and entertainment, sports, and pornography.“One person was coming in an hour early every single day to watch pornographic videos,” says Kramer.“Well, after we went public, you wouldn’t believe how many folks came up to me to say ‘you know, lots of other guys use my workstation too.’ That was pretty funny.”

Legitimate web traffic related to car business came in sixth place, consuming only 8 percent of overall bandwidth. It was clear that there was plenty of bandwidth for legitimate business usage, meaning that the customer did not need to take on the extra cost of additional high-bandwidth lines. What they did need to do was establish a culture in which it was understood that non-business web usage would be tolerated, but only to a certain point. And they needed to enforce web usage policies to reflect that culture.

Web Security Gateway to the Rescue

“What happened next was pretty amazing,” Kramer says. “The owner worked with his people to figure out a fair set of policies on web usage. Social media usage was capped, but not blocked—you can’t sell cars these days without access to Facebook—and other policies were put in place that everyone could live with. One notable result was that pornography dropped to #9 on the usage list!”

Fortunately, Barracuda Web Security Gateway has flexible, granular policy-enforcement tools that made it easy for Kramer to configure policies that freed up plenty of bandwidth and created a greater focus on productive, professional web usage. “With the Barracuda Web Security Gateway, it was very easy for me to help my customer define and enforce exactly the policies he wanted, and to save him money as a result.” Because he didn’t have to increase bandwidth, the Web Security Gateway paid for itself in four months.

"With the Barracuda Web Security Gateway, it was very easy for me to help my customer define and enforce exactly the policies he wanted, and to save him money as a result."
- Jim Kramer, Owner, Kramer Consulting, LLC

Barracuda: Ease of Use and Support Make the Difference

Kramer understands that to keep his business healthy, he needs to be attentive and responsive— and sometimes creative—in meeting his customers’ needs. So when it comes to the managed services he offers, he relies extensively on Barracuda solutions to make sure that his customers are satisfied.

Barracuda solutions not only give Kramer the advanced capabilities and ease of use that his customers demand. They also come with the industry’s best customer service. As Kramer puts it, “No one else can compete with Barracuda support—you call them and you get help, period.”

Your organization may not face the complex challenges that Kramer’s auto-dealer customer was dealing with—and secretly tracking your users’ online behavior may not be the right approach to managing your bandwidth. But whatever your business, Barracuda Web Security Gateway delivers the capabilities you need to ensure your bandwidth is used exactly the way you want—efficiently and productively.

About Barracuda

Barracuda (NYSE: CUDA) simplifies IT with cloud-enabled solutions that empower customers to protect their networks, applications and data regardless of where they reside. These powerful, easy-to-use and affordable solutions are trusted by more than 150,000 organizations worldwide and are delivered in appliance, virtual appliance, cloud and hybrid deployments. Barracuda’s customer-centric business model focuses on delivering high-value, subscription-based IT solutions that provide end-to-end network and data security. For additional information, please visit barracuda.com.

Barracuda Networks, Barracuda and the Barracuda Networks logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Barracuda Networks, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.

About the Barracuda Web Security Gateway

The Barracuda Web Security Gateway is a web content filtering solution that enables the connected business to benefit from new technologies and online tools, without being exposed to lost productivity, wasted bandwidth, and data loss. It enables highly granular, real-time visibility into online activity, letting administrators create and enforce effective content and access policies. Included free are unlimited agents and software licenses to enforce content and access policies on mobile devices being used outside the corporate network.