Entertainment and media corporations have been acutely aware of the risks posed by the existence of offline data files since the high profile Sony hack in 2014.
In that incident, nearly 200 ‘PST’ mailboxes (including those of an executive at Sony Pictures Canada and one of its IT audit supervisors) were stolen and published.
One entertainment corporation was facing particular problems with this issue because of its sheer size, but Quadrotech was able to help.
• Need to centralize offline data.
• Over 80,000 users worldwide.
• Hundreds of thousands of individual files.
• PST elimination and migration to Office 365.
• Quadrotech PST Flight Deck.
• Quadrotech Managed Migration service.
• Achieved compliance and security objectives.
• Successful phased migration of data.
• Chain of custody maintained throughout.
Any enterprise that has historically used Microsoft Exchange Client or Outlook typically has many thousands of offline PSTs scattered throughout its infrastructure – on desktops, laptops, removable disks and shared network drives. These PSTs are accessed constantly by local users, and may contain highly sensitive data of which the organization is unaware. The relative insecurity and easy portability of PSTs means their eradication has become a critical concern.
One entertainment corporation was facing particular problems with this issue because of its sheer size. With over 80,000 licensed Exchange users worldwide and an estimated 250TB of unsecured offline PST data at large in its North American operations alone, it had a very complex and disparate corporate infrastructure. There were a number of devolved business units, while others had been absorbed into the organization through acquisition and were running separate IT systems.
The corporation took the decision to implement an accelerated PST elimination program as part of its Office 365 migration, and Quadrotech’s PST Flight Deck was selected because of its successful track record, clear workflow, ability to reconcile individual users, and integrated communications features. Because of the intricacy and specialist knowledge required for the project, the client opted to have it delivered as a Quadrotech Managed Migration.
The client’s highest priority was to migrate and eradicate all the PSTs in its North American operations. This phase was scheduled over a six-month period, following which the rest of its worldwide operations would follow.
As with all offline migrations, there were many more PST files in circulation than there were official ‘users’. This is because there are often multiple PSTs on multiple repositories belonging to a single owner, as well as orphaned PSTs abandoned when users leave the business. Some individual PST files can be excessively large, occupying several GB.
Thomas Madsen, CEO of Quadrotech, explains: “One of the reasons PST Flight Deck was selected by this client was its integrated communications features. These enable operators and users to schedule and prioritize migration operations based on predetermined criteria.
“In any migration there are so many moving parts that you need to constantly monitor what’s actually going on. Bandwidth management is vital, and we know exactly what performance we should expect to see from PST Flight Deck. If something goes awry we’re able to spot it and inform the client so they can take appropriate action.”
Throughout the North America migration program, the Quadrotech team noted regular performance degradations and worked with the client to resolve them. “In any migration there are many moving parts so you need to constantly monitor what’s actually going on. When you’re capturing and processing hundreds of thousands of small files everything grinds to a halt if your anti-virus is scanning everything.”
“There were two common problems,” says Madsen. “Firstly, we couldn’t see the state of the client’s own storage, which slowed to a halt whenever it reached capacity. We were able to alert the client so the problem could be remediated.
“The second issue highlights the importance of clear communication within the client. When you’re capturing and processing hundreds of thousands of small files everything grinds to a halt if your anti-virus is scanning everything. AV needs to be temporarily disabled locally for best performance. The trouble was that halfway through migrating some sites the AV would get switched back on by someone who hadn’t been informed about the program. Tracking that person down and getting AV disabled again meant that progress was rather more stop-start than we’d have liked.”
“Organizations considering similar migrations simply need to ensure they provision appropriate resources and project management at the outset,” notes Madsen. “Our Managed Migration service removes this headache. We know how our product can and should perform, and this meant we were able to pinpoint likely problems within the client’s infrastructure so they could be addressed as quickly as possible.
“A migration of this type and on this scale is so much more than a technical project. We’d encourage anyone embarking on it to consider the impact on all parts of the organization and to inform and manage the expectations of anyone who will come into contact with it.
“The client’s objective of removing unnecessary risk from the business is achieved with the final elimination of residual PST files after migration. We provide comprehensive reporting and chain of custody information so they can address any future legal and compliance questions, and vital information is now centrally accessible, managed and secure within Office 365.”