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S&ME Targets More Federal Contracts with Secure File Collaboration

S&ME migrates nearly 90 TB of data to Egnyte and creates a hub for all 35 of their offices for secure file sharing to modernize collaboration and win more business.

“It was shocking how good Egnyte was at picking up where we had data that needed controlled access... We were completely unaware some of this was in multiple shared drives or where it shouldn't be.”
Michael Farrar
Technology Director, S&ME


Like many mid-sized engineering companies, S&ME faces ongoing technology challenges as it tries to keep pace with larger competitors, manage and secure its data, and address changes in the way their employees work.

Core to their struggles was the inability to track project data across the numerous technologies that were being used for collaboration. Employees were running into file sharing limitations that wasted time and slowed productivity, especially with large jobsite files. And clients were increasingly demanding security and compliance controls that their legacy tools simply couldn’t address.

All of these issues were compounded by the fact that S&ME was growing as an organization and looking to win more federal government projects.

“We have a very long history at our company working on small, local, and regional projects. But we’re really trying to evolve so we can handle a much larger, multi-disciplinary, broader scope of projects,” said Chris Headley, director of Corporate Services at S&ME.

As the firm moves to address those goals for the next phase of its evolution, Egnyte has become an increasingly valuable partner in the process.

Challenge: Poor User Collaboration and IT Visibility

S&ME struggled with fast, convenient, and secure collaboration across its employee footprint.

The company had close to 90 TB of data stored on file servers across more than 35 office locations, and a mishmash of best-of-breed collaboration and storage technologies, which meant different tools for internal and external file sharing.

This created major problems for users. Teams struggled to work on large data sets like drone video, and they lost time getting field data to the office so others could work on it.

At the same time, S&ME was facing increased pressure to provide better visibility, control, and protection over its clients’ data. Director of IT Michael Farrar started seeing contract language that referenced cybersecurity and federal guidelines like ISO 27001 and NIST SP-800, which started a conversation about the company’s ability to win government contracts in the years ahead.

“How do we answer these questions if we’re nowhere close to meeting these requirements?” Farrar said.

Solution: One Platform for Secure Collaboration

One of the groups within S&ME feeling the pain of downloading and sharing large video files suggested Egnyte as a possible solution. The firm did its due diligence on the Egnyte solution, which included reaching out to IT research and consulting firm Gartner, which counts S&ME as a client.

“We got very good information and a glowing recommendation from Gartner, which gave us the confidence to try Egnyte’s technology stack,” Headley said.

And so they did, starting with the group that brought Egnyte to the table in the first place. Headley described the launch and the customer support as “fantastic.” The platform provided immediate value, so S&ME began working with Egnyte to support other collaboration use cases across the entire employee footprint.

“We saw the value in Egnyte,” Headley said. “It allows us to replace our disparate, outdated technologies and modernize our tech stack. Our Egnyte platform allows us to achieve some new capabilities we were really struggling to achieve.”

From there, S&ME moved its massive trove of unstructured data to Egnyte. This included content like documents, images, and videos. S&ME retained an on-premises footprint but used the Egnyte integration with Truyo to discover and classify content, making Egnyte the single source of project content governance for all departments. IT can now keep tabs on all its data, including proactively discovering and identifying sensitive information like Confidential Unclassified Information (CUI)—meeting the needs of its larger clients.

“Just from the sheer discovery standpoint—Egnyte makes it much, much easier to find information than ever before,” Headley said.

Users can now access all their data quickly as well, knowing the files are all housed within the appropriate project folders. Photos taken on mobile devices can be uploaded to the relevant project folder based on geolocation, keeping them organized and easily accessible. This saves considerable bandwidth and frees employees to get back to business-critical tasks.

“We’re really trying to evolve so we can handle a much larger, multi-disciplinary, broader scope of projects.”
Chris Headley
Director of Corporate Services, S&ME

Benefits: A Modernized Stack To Tackle the Next Stage of Growth

The engineering market is fairly small, so directors at other firms talk to each other regularly, according to Headley. His peers have referenced other technologies they use to achieve the same goals, but he knows they made the right choice. Specifically, Egnyte made S&ME feel valued, based on a foundation of trust and partnership.

“I would put Egnyte’s customer service at the top of the list when it comes to treating S&ME as a partner, helping us identify and achieve our business goals,” he said.

S&ME’s next big focus is on cybersecurity and data protection, especially as it works with larger, more sophisticated clients. It’s working with Egnyte toward compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework, which has strict guidelines for businesses that work with the U.S. Department of Defense. This will help S&ME earn more business not only with government entities, but also with other AEC firms, energy companies and other potential clients that do business with the federal government.

And while S&ME builds toward CMMC compliance, it’s already reaping benefits from Egnyte’s security and governance capabilities. It uses Content Classification to identify, locate, and secure CUI. S&ME also takes action on unusual activity flagged by Egnyte—such as files with personally identifiable information (PII) stored in the wrong folder or individuals downloading large numbers of files—and creates policies to prevent unauthorized sharing.

“It was shocking how good Egnyte was at picking up where we had data that needed controlled access, such as PII,” said Mark Petersen, Senior Information Systems Security Analyst. “We were completely unaware some of this was in multiple shared drives or where it shouldn’t be, and it helps us corral that and it has a very easy mechanism to fix those issues.”

Moreover, the IT team sees its use of Egnyte as an investment that will pay dividends in the form of new contracts with clients that are increasingly concerned about cybersecurity.

Headley and his team are also looking at Egnyte’s lifecycle management capabilities, which help automate archiving, deletion, and retention of documents. This will reduce the manual effort of project close-out, enabling IT to automate the archival of project data. An additional benefit is the confidence that comes with archiving project data in its entirety in a secure and accessible way, reducing both data storage costs and risk. The team is also considering Egnyte’s capabilities for ransomware detection and file recovery, disaster recovery, and integrations with other business applications.

For a company with a nearly 50-year legacy, it’s a series of baby steps, according to Headley. But with Egnyte as a partner, S&ME is well positioned to take those steps and position itself for another 50 years of success.

“With Egnyte, we feel like we’re in a fantastic spot to continue the evolution of our company to meet new emerging challenges and the needs of our customers,” he said.

At a Glance

Architecture Engineering and Construction


(HQ) Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

# of Employees



Content Intelligence,File Sharing & Collaboration,Access Governance, Privacy & Compliance, Data Controls

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