From Inspired Beginnings
Design Within Reach (DWR) founder Rob Forbes started the company back in 1998 with a simple vision – to make modern design accessible to the public. Forbes had recently returned from London and was looking to furnish his apartment with classic design pieces by Eames and Saarinen that he’d come to love while living abroad only to realize that unless you were part of the “club” – an architect or interior designer – you were out of luck or required to wait months. A direct to consumer channel did not exist, so he created one. He set up shop, ordered 20 containers of inventory, sent out a catalog, and the rest is history.
DWR is now a well–established multi–channel retailer, selling the best in authentic modern design via its call center, website, 34 retail Studios across the United States and Canada, and its contract sales team. They have turned their organization into an international operation that gives people access to the best in authentic modern design, helping put design within reach.
Growing In Style
Due to DWR’s highly collaborative nature, as it continued to grow its business, its digital footprint grew exponentially as well. In just a couple of years it doubled their digital footprint with no signs of slowing down. Employees were constantly adding more data to its servers, creating and working on a wide range of new files such as HR documents, training materials, sales quotes, contracts, budgets, marketing and sales briefs, and design specs on a daily basis. Recognizing the hassle and added cost of increasing its data center footprint, DWR’s VP of Technology and Information Systems, Bethany Kemp, saw an opportunity to find a new solution that democratized collaboration for every employee, not only those who worked at HQ or had access to VPNs.
DWR’s setup at the time was an in–house SharePoint server that was connected to an in–house storage network and some other local file shares. As the company grew this became more time-intensive to manage, difficult to accommodate remote employees, and also quite costly. As is always a part of her strategy for the company, Bethany wanted to be innovative in implementing a new solution that could help the company reduce its data center footprint and lower its cost. The best way to do that was to create an initiative to move to the cloud and bring the data to the user rather than requiring the user to access the data through VPN or physical location.
After Bethany’s team looked at a number of different solutions, including Box and Dropbox, they decided to go with Egnyte. Egnyte’s smart content collaboration solution, Egnyte Connect, gave DWR the ability to seamlessly migrate its data to the cloud and continue working without any interruption to its operations. This move helped to significantly reduce its data center footprint while also lowering many of the costs associated with managing its own hardware.
The Need for Coexistence
Beyond managing its corporate data, Bethany and her team at DWR are responsible for providing employees with the best technology solutions for getting their work done. After being a Google customer for more than seven years it was no surprise that DWR’s most popular productivity application was Google Drive. With that in mind it was a top priority for DWR’s new cloud solution to be very complementary, rather than competitive. “Since Google Drive was so heavily engrained in our company’s culture, we knew right away that whatever solution we went with needed to have a team that had a tight working relationship with Google,” said Corey Coppin, Director of IT Infrastructure at Design Within Reach.
Egnyte not only had a close working relationship with the Google team, it had already built native integrations with Google Drive that would end up making for a seamless transition for DWR. In fact, the Egnyte Connect + Google Drive integration was so well built, it actually made life easier for the DWR employees, giving them one centralized location to access all of their documents, regardless of whether they were in Google Drive or in the data center. It also allowed DWR to enforce a single security policy on all shared content across Google Drive and data center servers vastly simplifying security administration.
DWR employees could now store, manage, and collaborate on Google Sheets, Google Slides, Word Docs or even PDF files all from the same Egnyte Connect folder. Additionally, employees could continue to work natively in Google Drive and use the native integration to save their work back to Egnyte Connect with just one click.
Design Without Limits
When Herman Miller acquired Design Within Reach in 2015 it presented a new challenge for the company, as it needed to figure out an easy, secure way to collaborate with its new parent company. Given that merging all of its infrastructure and file shares would be entirely too cumbersome – and also not in the best interest of either company – DWR had to approach collaboration with Herman Miller as if it was still an external party.
One of the main problems DWR previously faced when it came to external collaboration was control. Employees often found it easiest to use whatever consumer collaboration solution was readily available or that they were used to, such as email or personal Dropbox accounts. Not only did this make it hard to properly secure data, it created massive amounts of confusion internally and externally because there was no single point of truth for the company’s documents.
This is where Egnyte Connect really flexed its power. Egnyte Connect’s file server model created one, centralized source of truth for all of DWR’s files. While this significantly helped provide the employees with the file sharing capabilities that drove them to download consumer software in the first place, it also gave the IT team a lot more options when it came to security and control. DWR was now able to give the right individuals uninterrupted access to the right files from any device and any application, no matter where they are located.
“With Egnyte Connect we were able to set permissions at the individual file level and maintain an unprecedented level of granular control that we had never had before, which really allowed us to rest easy knowing exactly who has file access at all times – internally and externally,” added Kemp. “This enabled our employees to work freely and IT can get out of the way!” One more bonus for Bethany and her team is that they were also now able to set more granular permissions on those highly used Google Drive files, as long as they are properly stored within the Egnyte Connect.
Since deploying Egnyte Connect, Design Within Reach has grown its digital footprint to over 20TB of data. Before Egnyte Connect employees would have to use an often troublesome VPN to connect to the file share and access the content they needed. With the Egnyte Connect solution in place, DWR has been able to eliminate the use of a VPN, create easy access to that data via the cloud, and enable a seamless workflow for employees.
Egnyte Connect also helped clean up DWR’s collaboration processes when working with people outside of its organization. With Egnyte Connect, employees can securely and confidently share content with external designers, partners, customers, and more.
As a company, DWR was tightly integrated with the entire Google Suite. Thanks to the deep integrations that Egnyte Connect has built with Google, DWR was able to seamlessly join the two and create a new digital workplace that benefitted the entire organization. Employees could still take advantage of the productivity apps within Google, like Google Drive and Gmail, and IT could tie the Egnyte Connect platform into its Google Cloud Storage on the backend.
Egnyte Connect has created a whole new world for Design Within Reach, providing a secure environment easily managed by IT and for employees that can be. With Egnyte Connect, when it comes to secure collaboration, you are always “within reach.”