International Speedway Corporation (ISC) promotes motorsports events, including NASCAR’s DAYTONA 500. The company operates 13 facilities, representing more than one million grandstand seats and 550 suites. Exceptional customer service for the more than 3.5 million people that attend their events is critical to success.
ISC relies heavily on email communication via Exchange Server 2007 to respond to customers’ needs. “It is not an easy task for us to fill 150,000 grandstand seats at one event, so it is key for us to maintain that customer service relationship,” says Brandon McNulty, Senior Director of Technology at ISC. ”Email is at the heart of that.” (continued below)
“Keeping spam off our email system is critical for both maintaining the integrity of our email security and business productivity,” explains McNulty. However, managing spam must be done intelligently because the company works with legitimate sponsors who can often be the subject of spam messages.
ISC used a third-party service to filter email, but found that spam incidents were steadily on the rise, impacting customer service. In fact, in the final nine months that ISC used the service, the rate of incidents that required intervention from the IT department increased at least four-fold.
So, ISC took advantage of its Microsoft enterprise license agreement and implemented Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, a hosted service that offers layered protection against spam and malicious software. Within four weeks, the company completely replaced its third-party service and was using Forefront Online across 1,000 employee computers and monitoring a total of 1,300 email accounts, including aliases.
Since implementing Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, ISC has reduced the number of spam incidents on its network by at least 25 percent. “Spam isn’t even a concern for us anymore. It doesn’t require human intervention for us to prevent it as it did before,” explains McNulty.
Instead of manually creating and deleting user accounts, ISC can automatically synchronize its Active Directory and Exchange Server accounts to Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, saving six hours of IT administration time each month.
Because there is no hardware or software to purchase and manage with the hosted service, ISC is saving money compared to an on-premises solution. “By avoiding hardware costs, licensing costs, and manpower to maintain the infrastructure, our savings are easily more than $120,000,” concludes McNulty.
Earlier this month InfoWorld's longtime product reviewer Keith Schultz posted a favorable review of Forefront Identity Manager 2010 and Active Directory Federation Services 2.0. Here's an excerpt:
Managing user access in businesses today is something like playing traffic cop in an intersection of a thousand roads. From Web-based applications to homegrown programs, from desktop PCs to the latest crop of smartphones, IT has to be able to control access to every sort of resource while allowing users to access them from anywhere and any platform.
A bigger challenge is providing seamless access to applications and systems across corporate or network boundaries. It's no trouble for IT to define and manage user names and passwords on their own network, but it takes more work -- or is nearly impossible -- to extend access to internal systems to numerous external users or to manage local user access to a system outside of their control.
Microsoft has updated Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) 2010 and Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to aid IT in applying identity management across domains and business boundaries. Both of these tools are intended to extend user access control across the enterprise; FIM uses a common platform to tie user, certificate, group, and policy management together, while ADFS provides trust accounts between different networks or organizations. Together, they provide a powerful platform for extending user management beyond the company domain or network edge.