BuzzFeed Upgrades Content Platform

New content platform simplifies workflows while IT gains control

“It was our job to ensure the safety of our people, and our content, with a secure file sharing and management solution that could be implemented across the entire BuzzFeed operation.”

Jason Reich Director of Global Security

In the business of making headlines

You’d practically have to be living under a rock if you’ve not yet encountered BuzzFeed. They are a globally distributed digital media powerhouse that is currently read and watched by over 500 million people across more than 30 platforms worldwide, touting 7 billion content views per month. Just let that sink in. If you still don’t think you know who they are, chances are a friend has sent you a link to an exploding watermelon, a Tasty recipe or hard–pressing article about foreign workers in the United States.

Add to those impressive statistics that the company did not barely exist a decade ago and you can see what remarkable growth and innovation BuzzFeed has created, employing more than 1,300 staff with offices in 18 cities across the globe, including its 52,000-square-foot production studio in LA.

BuzzFeed is in the business of creating content and fosters a unique culture, admittedly obsessed with innovation and focused on building a media platform for today and into the future. The company aims to connect deeply with its audience, creating content that will be worth sharing with people. As a venturebacked tech company BuzzFeed promotes a flexible and nimble environment, encouraging employees to try new formats in a culture of experimentation.

Keeping up with growth

We spoke with Jason Reich, Director of Global Security, and Justine Bienkowski, Senior IT Manager, to learn more about their challenges and how IT has adapted to rapid growth. In the last two years, the company has doubled in size, both in employees and by output, creating the majority of its content in–house, as well as posting double digit quarterly revenue growth.

The creative teams at BuzzFeed were experiencing very laggard upload times for large Photoshop files to Dropbox. At the time, Jason and his team found many employees were sharing files over email, but also using both corporate and personal Dropbox accounts. The content created was widely distributed but from there control was lost, with a single file possibly existing in dozens of different personal and corporate accounts, sometimes even outside of the organization.

The majority of BuzzFeed employees are digital natives, and employees often adopted ad hoc solutions using technology that worked for each individual or team. However, at this point in the company’s growth security was a key element and lack of central management and visibility had the potential to impact business operations. BuzzFeed operates as a cloud-based company, using collaboration tools with Google office suite, often sharing documents among reporters, editors, field offices and business and sales teams.

The IT team needed to account for many different internal stakeholders, including legal, IT and finance teams, as well as reporters and staff in the field. It was a delicate balance to accelerate the speed of information delivery for end users, as well as maintain the security the company needs.

“Our business team is in love with Egnyte for Salesforce integration. They’re now able to find every single document and it has revolutionized the way Egnyte is used across the team, which is very satisfying since that was our goal from the beginning. Egnyte is successful at BuzzFeed because the file structure makes sense to our users, while still providing our team with valuable end–to–end protection.”

Justine Bienkowski - Senior IT Manager, BuzzFeed

The solution

The first order of business was to do a bit of education and evangelism about the need for a secure file sharing system. While some companies focus solely on the inevitable hacking, Jason and his team wanted to look at best practices to educate BuzzFeed around the importance of privacy and security in their digital workplace.

“Shadow IT simply means I am not doing my job properly,” states Bienkowski. “If someone at BuzzFeed needs to go out and find a solution to a problem on their own, then that means I am not already meeting that need. We also needed to identify the best possible solution for our users. We could provide the most secure solution in the world, but if it wasn’t seamless and unhindered and our reporters weren’t going to use it then it wasn’t worth implementing.”

After deciding to move away from Dropbox, BuzzFeed took a look at solutions from Syncplicity and ownCloud as well as a handful of hybrid solutions, but none met BuzzFeed’s security standards. Egnyte was the ideal solution. BuzzFeed initially onboarded 1,000 users, with plans to expand with the natural growth of the company.

BuzzFeed deployed Egnyte with these benefits and features:

Collaboration Without Limits: BuzzFeed employees are able to collaborate with the productivity apps and tools they have grown accustomed to, without IT needing to micromanage the way they work. With Egnyte employees can stay productive while IT ensures the security of company content behind the scenes.

Advanced Visibility and Control: Egnyte provides IT at BuzzFeed complete visibility and granular control over all of their company content. Operations have also simplified, as file hierarchies are now in place for new hires, creating a centralized folder for the documents they will need at the start of employment. This solution is scalable and also allows administrators to lock down folders within folders to individuals as necessary.

Salesforce Application Integration: “Our business team is in love with Egnyte for Salesforce integration. It has revolutionized the way Egnyte is used across the team, which was our goal from the beginning. Egnyte is successful at BuzzFeed because the file structure makes sense to our users, while still providing our team with valuable end-to-end protection.” Justine Bienkowski

The rewards

After choosing Egnyte, BuzzFeed moved 3Tb of data over three short weeks without disrupting any internal collaboration workflows and retaining original content permissions. Following the Egnyte deployment, BuzzFeed has created efficiencies across the company.

The problems the creative team were experiencing have been resolved and uploading large files is efficient and fast. Employees across multiple teams can easily collaborate and work on files from multiple locations and departments. Egnyte's Smart Reporting and Auditing allows the IT team to better understand how content is shared. The IT team can set granular permissions on the file structure, which is essential for security purposes.

As a cloud–based solution, Egnyte ensures content is available to the users regardless of location. Thanks to Egnyte, BuzzFeed does not need to hire three administrators to manage an onsite content storage infrastructure, providing cost savings as well as eliminating the worry of a server going down. Shadow IT has been eliminated and BuzzFeed employees now understand the importance of digital literacy and protecting all online assets.

Egnyte has allowed BuzzFeed to collaborate on content in a way that makes sense for their workflows, and also happens to be the most secure and sophisticated solution, protecting staff and reporters all while making IT and legal happy on the back end. Now, that’s good news.