The company didn't realize it at the time, but an office relocation would eventually force Madison, Wis.-based Rural Mutual Insurance Company to change its Web-filtering service. After the relocation, the insurer (about $140 million in premium) implemented a new network infrastructure, moving from Cisco Systems switches to HP. "We tried to get our Web-filtering system working, but it didn't really play nice with the HP switches," says Bill Newman, technical services manager at Rural Mutual.
In April 2006, a business partner recommended ScanSafe, and Rural Mutual took the Web-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) Web-filtering offering for a two-week test run. "It worked well for us," Newman says of the ScanSafe trial. "It was very quick and easy to implement. It was doing the blocking we needed, and it had flexibility in terms of what we could block."
Rural Mutual signed with the San Mateo, Calif.-based ScanSafe shortly thereafter. According to Newman, ScanSafe's solution stood out because it was a managed service -- instead of hosting software, Rural Mutual needed only to send users' initial requests for Internet traffic out to ScanSafe servers. "It's basically a redirect of any requests for Web pages. Hardware availability and stability no longer were an issue for us," Newman explains.
The insurer rolled out the system in May 2006, and implementation was completed in two to three weeks, although Newman says that had more to do with the company's decision to push the service out gradually than it did the actual time it took to implement. "There really wasn't anything to install at our site. [We used] Active Directory [a Microsoft directory service] to push out Internet Explorer setting changes to all the machines in the company," Newman says.
Flexibility Adds Up
Software updates under the old system were required once or twice a year and were often difficult undertakings, Newman says. Web-based ScanSafe updates automatically. "Just the flexibility and the lack of any kind of infrastructure located here were the main things that really drove us to ScanSafe," Newman relates.
Although he declined to disclose the cost of the service, Newman did say that the company is charged per user. Rural Mutual only uses the Web-filtering service from ScanSafe, which also offers instant messaging control and malware scanning services for an additional cost.
Rural Mutual has realized both hard- and soft-dollar savings from the ScanSafe service. "Our impression is that we're definitely spending less time managing it," Newman explains. "I'm sure we would have had to replace the hardware [on the old Web filter] already, which, even on a relatively inexpensive platform, would have cost between $2,000 and $4,000."
The company also found the Web-based service easier to manage. "It's very simply integrated with Active Directory, so we can take advantage of a lot of the infrastructure we already have with Active Directory, rather than create separate groups just for Web filtering," Newman relates.
Going forward the insurer is looking at extending the service to its employees who work outside the office and will consider other ScanSafe services if the need arises.
Rural Mutual Insurance Company (Madison, Wis.; about $140 million in premium).
Lines of business
Personal, commercial and farm.
ScanSafe (San Mateo, Calif.) Web Filtering.
Provide a Web-filtering solution with reporting capabilities and the ability to unblock specific sites.