How New Balance used Box to crack down on thieves stealing its designs

Credit: renaissancechambara via Flickr

Shoe and athletic wear company New Balance faces a huge intellectual property problem, with factories overseas stealing its designs and selling them for pennies on the dollar -- sometimes before the original New Balance design has even rolled off the assembly line.

"We have a group that chases around violations of our intellectual property all over the globe," Ben Newton, the desktop infrastructure lead for New Balance's IT department, told CITEworld. "We've found them and we've shut them down. We knew there were leaks."

How do the ripoff artists get these designs? Nobody knows for sure, but a few years ago New Balance decided to crack down on potential leaks from employees sharing information -- such as marketing brochures -- in insecure ways, such as FTP sites, email attachments, mailed USB drives, and unapproved cloud services like Dropbox.

So Newton began looking for a secure cloud-based alternative. It also had to be appealing and easy enough that users wouldn't look for their own alternatives.

They first checked out at YouSendIt in 2012, but found it had serious manageability limitations -- "it was a real show-stopper," says Newton.

A few months later, the company expanded its thinking and held a bake-off between Box and Accellion.

"We went through one of our biggest processes, which is delivering our launch kit. 15 gigabytes of data. That's when Box proved itself to be a little head and shoulders above any other company out there."

The biggest advantage, says Newton, was Box's ability for users to preview files without having to download them. "That is so helpful when you have 15 gigabytes' worth of data, which could consist of 40,000 files. You don't want people downloading everything just to see what's there."

From the IT side, Newton was impressed by Box's HIPAA-compliance, which gave him confidence that the solution would be sufficiently secure, and its ability to integrate with New Balance's Active Directory implementation through identity broker Ping Identity. New Balance has a number of brand subsidiaries on different domains, and now five of those domains are on Box.

Newton said integrating with AD was probably the most complicated part of the deployment, but even that only took about two weeks. "Having a team standing by ready to integrate with our single sign-on, which we're really coming to rely on....If you're talking about cloud-based and you can't do it, you really don't belong there."

Since rolling out Box, Newton says, the company has found uses way beyond secure file transfer, such as giving salespeople access to collateral from new company-issued iPads. 

"I have setups with certain people where everything they save to their computer, as long as it's in their profile, goes to the cloud and it's available to them on their iPads. So they can be at a customer, and they may already have had their presentation designed and given to them, but they can just go and grab anything they may need from their computer then and there."

About 1,000 of the company's 2,200 information workers (that is, employees who use a computer and email) are now on Box.  As a result, Newton is planning to shut down all the company's FTP servers, and deemphasize its existing SharePoint servers. 

"SharePoint's a juggernaut, and it's great, it's a little tricky to deal with in some regards, and some things it really can't handle, particularly huge filesets. I'm not going to say replace, but [Box] is going to be the bigger brother to SharePoint," says Newton. "For a user to make their own SharePoint page, and put their files in it, and share it with their team....I believe that Box is one of the most powerful end-user tools since the PC was implemented in business because it allows them to make a folder structure, and to share it with somebody in their way."

He continues, "It really makes an efficient workflow process, with no limitations on file size, or internal or external people. It's just an extremely powerful tool."

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
View Comments
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies