Home improvement: Clayton Homes and Proofpoint
Home improvement: Clayton Homes and Proofpoint

One company has found a way to allow the use of mobile devices – with data defense and compliance needs, reports Greg Masters.

When one of the world's pre-eminent investors, Warren Buffett, acquired Clayton Homes in 2003, even the “Oracle of Omaha” couldn't envision the wireless revolution that would soon revise the way business partners and clients communicated across enterprise empires.

Clayton Homes has been selling and leasing manufactured and modular homes and commercial properties since 1934. The company, based in Maryville, Tenn., and a division of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, has built more than 1.5 million homes, secured financing for more than 325,000 customers and insured 160,000 families.

With 12,000 team members operating 35 home-building facilities and more than 1,000 home centers across the United States, its employees turn to a wide variety of mobile devices to send and receive emails that contain sensitive and regulated information about home financing, manufacturing, purchasing and proprietary designs. If revealed, this information could increase risk levels and set the company up for regulatory charges, not to mention loss of customer confidence.

“We needed to find a way to allow our employees to use mobile devices to send and receive email within the boundaries of security and compliance,” says Jodie Swafford, information security manager at Clayton Homes.

Employees at the company often conduct business outside of the confines of the wired office. Company policy encourages them to use mobile devices when they are on the road or working remotely so they can stay in touch with customers and be available for new, fast-moving opportunities. For employees to take advantage of mobility's benefits, their IT department needed to address the security, privacy and regulatory issues of email communications.

There are many competing products on the market, Google Postini among them. Before making a decision, Swafford and his team evaluated several solutions. “We looked for one that was cost effective and could provide us with strong security and compliance across multiple mobile platforms as well as offer control, flexibility and scalability.”

After reviewing several possibilities, the IT team chose the Proofpoint Enterprise Protection SaaS [software-as-a-service] email security solution. It delivered on all of the requirements needed and more, says Swafford.
One way it does this is by providing a set of enterprise email security and compliance solutions that can be accessed through its SaaS offering, deployed as virtual appliances inside of private clouds, or as on-premise hardware appliances, says Rami Habal, director of product marketing at Proofpoint.

“Using the solution, customers such as Clayton Homes can allow employees to use the advantages of mobile while adhering to corporate and regulatory security and compliance requirements,” Habal says. “Proofpoint customers recognize that security and compliance must be interwoven into any mobile initiative. Without it, costly data breaches and compliance violations will occur.”

In the modern IT environment, data is constantly in motion and spread out to a wider range of devices, says Habal. “Workers are doing more business on the road, from remote locations and across consumer mobile devices. Constant increases in new users and devices, email-borne attacks and spam volumes, along with ever-changing regulatory requirements are placing extreme pressures on IT security teams,” he says.

With Proofpoint, Clayton Homes gained a number of advantages, says Swafford. It saved the company money, and he was able to scale the Proofpoint solution as the company grew. “Proofpoint's capabilities allowed us to extend security and compliance to email communications as new employees, other users and mobile devices are added to the network,” he says.

Further, Clayton Homes' IT team can now support a variety of consumerized IT devices and operating systems, including Apple's iPad and iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry mobile devices.
“If your employees are doing business across handhelds and tablets, you can be assured that with Proofpoint
all email communications are secure,” says Habal.