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Electronic Arts adopts cloud storage from Box

EA adopts Box cloud storage for enhanced collaboration.

Speaking with CIO magazine, Mark Tonnesen, CIO for Electronic Arts, highlighted several of the changes that the company is making in order to modernize operations and enhance collaboration among its workforce. Central to the change is the adoption of a cloud storage solution from Box. Using cloud storage, EA is able to enhance collaboration between teams that must work on large volumes of media. In order to give an idea for the capacity needs of the third-highest revenue generating video game business in the world, Tonnesen discussed EA's upcoming FIFA 13.

"FIFA 13 comes out in a few weeks, and that particular build of software is I think between 75 and 90 gigabytes," Tonnesen told CIO. "It's huge. So what we do is we ship that to 18 or 20 locations around the world – and, by the way, we ship many, many versions because we have 18 to 20 different languages to ship – and we do testing and we do thorough testing. And then we do write-ups and then we do modifications to the software. Then we send out a new set of builds, and so on."

One of the challenges that Tonnesen touched on was the nature of the company's workforce. He said that EA has entirely external marketing and legal teams in addition to in-house employees. This makes it increasingly important to ensure the most updated versions of media and contracts are readily available to both in-house and remote employees. The issue of security – which is often a tenuous subject as companies consider migrating to the cloud – was also brought up. Tonnesen believes his role as CIO is to manage provisioning, while other departments handle the management of the service to best tailor it to their needs.

Tonnesen noted that it will be difficult for many IT professionals to move away from the traditional "command-and-control" focus, but that it will be a necessary shift as more companies place a high value on fast deployment. Limiting management to only a select few could diminish the innate benefits of utilizing cloud storage in the first place. For example, if marketing needs extra capacity to launch a new digital ad campaign and all service requests must go through the CIO, deployment speed and efficiency can be reduced.

"A company like Box is very successful in the consumer market, and [the consumers] don't need IT people," Tonnesen told CIO. "I think in the enterprise, that's the sweet spot. If IT can learn to get the heck out of the way and provide the tools for the employees to do what they need to do, great things will happen."

Box brings security to the cloud
Box's recent shift from consumer cloud storage into the enterprise market has come with some functional changes. Many of these shifts involve upgrades to address cloud security concerns that have been rampant in the business space. Although Tonnesen was adamant regarding the need for CIOs to be less control-oriented, IT still needs tools to protect intellectual property and other sensitive data. According to TechCrunch columnist Leena Rao, Box recently upgraded security in a number of ways, including multi-factor authentication and improved monitoring tools.

"The company has added a new reporting API so businesses can now incorporate Box activity logs in third-party business intelligence platforms," Rao explained. "This allows companies to import collaboration data to outside applications. For example, if there is an unusual shift in usage, spikes in traffic on Box or abnormal behavior occur (i.e. a user downloading several hundred files at once), admins can be alerted in real-time and take appropriate action."

The company plans to further enhance data protection through a partnership with security-as-a-service provider Proofpoint. According to Rao, Proofpoint's software scans files as they are uploaded to Box according to predefined conditions. This allows IT administrators to automate much of the policy enforcement process, so employees can still manage the cloud storage service without limiting the organization's ability to protect its data.