Mar 16 2009

Timing Is Everything

A move creates the perfect opportunity for a British Columbia consulting company to deploy a new IT infrastructure.

Photo: Simon Hayter/WPN
Mandeep Sidhu of Solaris Management Consultants says upgrades to the company’s server infrastructure and antivirus software have delivered faster response times and streamlined security management.

Sometimes businesses have to make do with the technology on hand until both the opportunity and the budget dollars arrive. Such a moment took place last fall for Solaris Management Consultants when the company moved to its new facility in Surrey, British Columbia.
The oil and gas engineering consultancy has doubled in size over the past four years, approaching 100 employees, says Mandeep Sidhu, IT lead for Solaris, putting it in need of new quarters and an updated network infrastructure.

As part of the move, Solaris’ network grew from a single server running all its applications to five IBM xSeries servers with new Cisco Systems gigabit switches and Microsoft Exchange Server. The company also upgraded its antivirus software to strengthen notebook and desktop security.

Today, applications are segregated on the individual servers to ease troubleshooting. “Now, if I need to restart a server, I don’t have to disrupt the entire workflow of the company,” says Sidhu, who adds that the response time on the company’s intranet is much faster.

Beefed-Up Security

Before the move, managing security scans was a major pain for Sidhu and his end users. One of his goals for the upgrade was to replace his current antivirus tool with one that would not hinder performance on client machines.

He evaluated numerous vendors, but especially liked the IntelliScan capability in Trend Micro’s product. IntelliScan uses true file-type recognition, which scans only the file types known to contain malicious code. In the past, security tools would scan every file type on the desktop. With millions of potential viruses and files to scan, it simply took too long to run a single scan.

“The security companies realized that as the volume of malware increases, so does the performance impact of scheduled antivirus scanning,” saysPeter Firstbrook, a Gartner security analyst.

“So vendors are increasingly adding configuration options to optimize scheduled scans,” he says, adding that most of these options focus on improving the timing of the scans, the CPU resources the scanners use, and the types of files and directories it checks.

Trend Micro, Symantec and McAfee account for the biggest chunk of theantivirus software market. Other players include Panda Security, Kaspersky Lab, Sophos and Microsoft.

85% of the antivirus software market is held by Trend Micro, Symantec and McAfee.
Source: Gartner

Symantec says its TruScan proactive threat scan scores both the good and the bad behavior of unknown applications, offering more accurate malware detection on PCs, Macs and Linux machines. And McAfee claims that it detects threats that write to memory rather than to disk, such as Code Red and SQL Slammer — an important feature to many organizations as more insidious malware can launch attacks from memory.

Processing Pause

Sidhu says another advantage to Trend Micro’s approach is its ability to pause in between file scans to free up processor resources and to run personal firewalls on each desktop, which he plans to enable this spring.

“I can now run scans in the middle of the day that don’t affect the performance of the client machines,” says Sidhu, who manages the Trend Micro software through its web interface.