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Case Study: Why Columbia Association Replaced CloudLock with BetterCloud


July 28, 2015

3 minute read


Columbia Association (CA) is a nonprofit service corporation that manages Columbia, MD, home to approximately 100,000 people. Columbia was founded in 1967 by James Rouse and his Howard Research and Development Company. Rouse sought to build a complete city that would respect the land, provide for the growth of people and, ultimately, make a profit.

Columbia Association moved to Google Apps from Exchange before Will Hume, Systems Engineer, started at the organization two years ago, but together with the rest of the IT team, he was tasked with finding a new solution for managing their domain.

With an IT staff of 11 supporting a user base of around 1,600, Hume and his team noticed “a lot less downtime on Google Apps than Exchange,” which meant fewer fires for IT,  and that the suite was “simplistic,” which appealed to users.

Seeking an Alternative to CloudLock for Data Security

But when it came to managing and securing their data in Google Apps as compared to on-premises Exchange, Columbia Association needed tools for this new paradigm of data in the cloud. The IT team initially found CloudLock as a potential solution, but once they started using the product, “saw it wasn’t really working as it should.”

Hume continued: “It was bulky and not user friendly. The product had a number of false positives and was locking down files and changing permissions based on those, which was frustrating.”

Searching for an alternative and looking specifically at Google Drive security solutions, the IT team found BetterCloud Enterprise.

Columbia Association takes a middle ground approach to managing Drive—they don’t want to hold users back with stringent policies, but also need to limit the content being shared and protect sensitive information like social security numbers or credit card numbers.

Granular Drive Compliance

Using BetterCloud, Columbia Association can implement and enforce granular Drive compliance policies, giving both IT and end users the flexibility they need without compromising on data security. The team has set up their policies in a way that violations are flagged and users get a notification.

He’s found that this approach creates excellent educational opportunities, where his team can explain why certain information shouldn’t be stored or shared, instead of auto-correcting sharing settings without discussing the violation with the user. “We take the time to speak to people so they understand what appropriate sharing looks like,” Hume explains.

How does Hume think the two products stack up? He says, “We had the products running side by side for a while, and there was a spreadsheet we found through BetterCloud’s Drive Audit that contained the social security number and employee ID of everyone in the company. CloudLock didn’t even flag the document—it made me wonder what else we could be missing.”

Add that to the $7,000 the organization has saved since switching to BetterCloud, making it, according to Hume, “a better product and a better price.”

A Full Suite of Administration Tools

The team has also found great value in BetterCloud’s access control feature, which allows him to grant non-admin users access to manage specific areas of their domain. Using this tool, IT can lock down the number of super administrators (a security best practice) and delegate responsibilities, like updating users or groups, to relevant department leaders.

Though Columbia Association initially installed BetterCloud for Drive security, the IT team also gained an entire suite of administration and reporting tools.

BetterCloud’s user provisioning workflow “takes you through the step-by-step onboarding process” and “makes sure that users get up and running quickly and belong to the correct groups,” Hume adds. In fact, having a tool to streamline new hire onboarding can save him upward of 2-3 hours per week.

The time-saving tools and simplicity of the application mean that even non-technical users can find value. Instead of spending time manually building reports and requiring scripting knowledge to perform bulk actions, BetterCloud makes domain management and security accessible for users of every skill set.

Hume concludes, “Overall, the comprehensive interface at a fair price makes BetterCloud a great value.”