Datactics is a software company that creates self-service data quality and matching solutions across a wide range of industries and data types. Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Datactics has roughly 75 employees and has raised over $5 million in venture capital to date.
Bringing structure and control to a growing company
In 2019, Datactics had about 30 employees. As the business grew, so did the demand for more structure in how Datactics managed its internal IT environment. This resulted in Datactics CEO, Stuart Harvey, bringing Dave Brown in as Head of Security and DevOps.
Brown joined with over 18 years of industry experience in enterprise support, infrastructure design and architecture, disaster recovery, business continuity planning, quality assurance, and more. Joining a small team with only one other person, they knew the task ahead was big, but set out with a clear plan to accomplish it.
A key area for any organization setting out to implement an internal IT strategy is user management. Armed with that knowledge, the newly formed team quickly set out to accomplish a defined level of user and device management.
“At that time, people were kings of their own kingdoms,” Brown commented. “Seeing this, the team quickly decided that one of the first things that needed to be done was to put a ring around our users. This didn’t mean least-privileged access, but certainly to get some kind of control so that we knew what our users were doing, when, and why.”
Choosing Jumpcloud for its feature-rich nature and ease of use
After obtaining buy-in for this project from the senior management team, Datactics launched a proof of concept (POC) competition across various identity and access management (IAM) providers.
As an Office 365 house, the first port of call was Azure Active Directory, however, after considering Datactics’ specific requirements and pricing, it wasn’t deemed the best fit. The competition was then narrowed down to three, from which JumpCloud came out on top.
“Out of the three we looked at, JumpCloud was by far the simplest tool that gave us everything we needed. JumpCloud was the first thing we implemented at Datactics as part of the new structure.” Brown continues, “Back in September/October 2019, little did we know how handy JumpCloud was going to prove come March 2020!” The sudden switch to remote work that arose from the pandemic saw the vast majority of the growing Datactics team taking laptops and devices home, so being able to enhance control over identity and access management was even more vital.
Scaling their business alongside JumpCloud
In JumpCloud, the Datactics team found a solution that gives them the foundation they need to scale with confidence.
Brown noted, “As a small company that is constantly growing and adapting to our changing landscape, JumpCloud gives us the user control and device control we need.”
The Datactics team got up and running on JumpCloud right away. According to Brown, “Starting with the DevOps & Security team, aided by some wonderful willing volunteers, we quickly proved how easy the product was to implement and for our user base to get to grips with it. After successful initial testing, the team quickly imported all users from Office 365 to the platform.”
“User import completed, we could quickly implement password policies with enforced password changes, 2FA, and everything in between. The whole deployment was simple, and after those few minor blips that always go with a new rollout, we were up and running.”
Brown continues, “Not only did that give us the ability to control our entire user base, it also let us control what those users could do to the devices they were assigned.”
With user control in place, the team moved on to device control.
“Like user control, device management was implemented in stages. Conscious of not wanting to seem like we were taking everyone’s access rights away after six months, we needed to be very careful on how it was deployed,” Brown explained.
JumpCloud device policy management made the rollout simple. By creating policy and device groups, the DevOps team was able to easily execute this stage of the project. As with all things, this was not without a few issues, but thanks to the assistance from JumpCloud support, no showstoppers were encountered.
Centralized identity and device management
From an IT and security perspective, one of the main benefits of JumpCloud is the ability to manage users, devices, policies, and everything else, from a single console.
“The ability to do so much from a single pane of glass is incredible,” Brown explains. “Since we rolled out JumpCloud, we’ve added circa 40 users. Onboarding these users was a lot easier because of JumpCloud. It was simpler for us to say, ‘here’s your device — it’s controlled, this is what you can do, this is what you can’t do’, rather than ‘here’s a device — now off you go.’”
A stronger employee experience
With JumpCloud, Datactics has strengthened the employee experience by ensuring they have access to the tools they need to do their jobs.
“It’s given us the ability to give our users a better day-to-day experience — everyone has access to the tools they require when they require them. Should a new tool be required after admin approval, it was made accessible to them.”
Brown continued, “Our user base has seen the benefit of needing admin approval when installing software. It needs to be checked out by an admin and proven that it’s not going to blue screen their machine, which is always a possibility when everyone is their own admin.”
As a company that works with multiple government and banking clients, Datactics is always focused on security. Using JumpCloud, the team has rolled out a number of policies and commands to button up their security stance.
“A simple but effective policy for us was the simple ‘Screen Lock.’ Having the assurance of knowing that a user’s screen will lock automatically after a certain time is great. No longer did we do nervous walks around the office to see who had left unattended screens!” Brown says.
“We quickly followed up with other policies such as firewall control, disabling USB devices, and setting OS software update.”
Brown commented, “Applying easy-touch policies ensured that our user resistance was kept low. Things have just been improving from there.
Plus, the ability to have our user repository (Office 365) and online LDAP connected made all the above possible with minimal user training and frustration.”
Compliance made easy
To serve their security-conscious clients, Datactics maintains two certifications each year, Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus; one is self-assigned, while the other is externally audited.
“Having JumpCloud on board makes the external auditing much simpler. When the auditors ask a compliance question, you can either go to the console or run a simple script and obtain the requested information,” said Brown.
Not long after Datactics became a client of JumpCloud, the platform released Systems and Directory Insights. After another quick trial, both were successfully deployed across the estate and are now used daily. Being able to “interrogate” their systems with JumpCloud has made the compliance piece considerably easier.
“It’s not like we wouldn’t get the certifications without JumpCloud, it just would have been a lot harder and required a lot more team effort,” Brown explains.
A strong partnership
After three-and-a-half years with JumpCloud, Brown comments that he knows his team made the right decision — Datactics has found a true partner they can scale alongside.
“We asked for more Linux administration when we first signed up because that was one of our big limitations,” Brown noted. “JumpCloud listened. Around eight or nine months later it came out, and that was absolutely brilliant. It’s been interesting to see JumpCloud grow in line with us, and anything that we’ve asked for has always been taken on board.”
Not only does JumpCloud listen and respond to user feedback, the company also delivers high-touch services to customers — even the smaller ones.
“For someone like me, who was in charge of IT infrastructure for a small company, to have a CEO reach out directly and take time out of his calendar to sit with us, that spoke volumes,” Brown said. “Being able to tell my senior management team, ‘we had this problem, and 10 minutes later I was speaking to the CEO of the company.’ That’s much better than me saying, ‘we have this problem, and I’ve had a support ticket open for six months and am getting nowhere.'”
Commenting on the expansion Brown shared, “Using other tools for these functions at present is a bit of an admin nightmare. The ability to have one pane of glass for all tools just simplifies everything.”
What advice would Brown give for IT teams considering JumpCloud?
“In a nutshell, get in and try it,” Brown concludes. “If you can find something simpler, let me know, because we weren’t able to.”
Learn more about JumpCloud
JumpCloud changes the way IT administrators manage their organizations by providing a comprehensive and flexible cloud directory platform. From one pane of glass, manage user identities and resource access, secure Mac, Windows, and Linux devices, and get a full view of your environment.
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