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CASE STUDY

Bailey Harris Construction

Bailey Harris Construction Case Study

OVERVIEW

In Alabama, hypersonics technologies, automotive supply chain, and a state government strategic push for tech jobs are major construction drivers. Where there is significant construction in Alabama, observers are likely to see the Bailey Harris Construction brand.

Formed in 1979, the company has grown steadily from its first project of $214,000 to projects today in excess of $100,000,000. The three lead factors that make or break large scale construction projects are cost control, quality, and scheduling. Bailey Harris has a proven reputation of excellence in all three - enabling it to continue placing its stamp on Alabama’s fastest-growing cities and communities.

Less visible than cranes, cement trucks, and hardhats is the IT infrastructure that enables secure network communications between construction sites and corporate applications. Griffin Cash is responsible for “all things IT” at Bailey Harris.

From the time the first spade hits dirt to when the front door keys are turned over to the new facility owner - Griffin must ensure network connections are both fast and secure. pfSense® instances - on-premises and in Microsoft Azure - perform secure networking duties including connecting each job site to Bailey Harris cloud domain controllers and providing firewall protection to the controllers. Domain controllers used to be commissioned on job premises. Now they are located in the Azure cloud.

It started when an on-premises domain controller failed. Domain controllers manage security authentication requests - granting individual user access to the company’s corporate applications. When they are down, RADIUS requests for WiFi authorization cannot authenticate - and users are down. Griffin decided to leverage the cloud to prevent future hardware failure or internet outages from crippling site communications. He decided to use Azure as a Cloud Service Provider. The next step was to figure out how to connect offices and job sites to the cloud. Since Bailey Harris already had pfSense appliances at office and job site locations, it was the logical starting point. Griffin knows how to stretch a dollar, so he compared the basic Azure A0 compute instance specifications to some of his older pfSense appliances - and concluded a 1vCPU and 0.75GB of RAM would be enough power for a small scale test. In under 30 minutes, an IPSec tunnel was up, and a new domain controller was provisioned in the cloud! Moving from test to production, Griffin deployed A1 compute instances equipped with 1vCPU and 1.75GB of RAM - providing breathing room for firewall protection of each controller.

Typically, Bailey Harris will have ten or more job sites operating simultaneously - with 5-10 employees active per site, plus guest contractors. Each site is equipped with either a Netgate SG-3100 or SG-1100 to connect the site to the pfSense cloud instances for VPN termination. Soon, the company plans to also use the Azure-based pfSense instances for remote desktop web filtering. Then, pfSense software will allow Griffin to apply the same security features and procedures (standardized for office locations) for all virtual machines hosted in the cloud.

pfSense cloud instances have the advantages of product ease of use, familiarity, cost, feature add flexibility, and freedom to purchase high-quality, fast turn-around support where needed. Best of all, relative to solution alternatives, pfSense software saves thousands of dollars a year for the company. We’re thrilled to have Bailey Harris as a customer, and honored to be a linchpin in their site-cloud-corporate IT infrastructure.

CHALLENGE

  • Bailey Harris needed IT infrastructure that enabled secure network communications between their office and construction sites to their corporate applications and domain control in the cloud
  • Upgrades to their IT infrastructure had to be completed fast, while not disrupting operations across completed, active, and newly started construction projects

SOLUTION

  • Griffin decided to leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud to prevent future hardware failure or internet outages from crippling site communications
  • Bailey Harris elected to use pfSense® instances - on-premises and in Microsoft Azure - to connect each job site to Bailey Harris cloud domain controllers
  • Bailey Harris was able to leverage pfSense software’s firewall functions to provide protection to their domain controllers and sensitive company data in the cloud

RESULTS

  • In under 30 minutes, an IPsec tunnel was up, and a new domain controller was provisioned in the cloud
  • Utilizing Netgate Hardware on-site and pfSense instances in Azure, Bailey Harris experienced new advantages of product ease of use and feature-add flexibility that saves their company thousands of dollars every year
  • The company plans to also use the Azure-based pfSense instances for remote desktop web filtering in the near future further leveraging the potential of their new Netgate IT infrastructure