Chicago-based company Context Media builds waiting room TV networks that help healthcare professionals educate and inspire their patients as they make crucial decisions about their lifestyle and clinical treatment.
IT is critical to the company. Context Media operates approximately 600 video terminals across the United States and system uptime is key to business profitability. Both the healthcare professionals and the advertisers need absolute assurance that the terminals Context Media manage are secure and always up and running.
All of Context Media’s systems run Ubuntu and use Broadsign software to manage the order and frequency of advertising content. IT manages and updates the systems, monitors their uptime, and remotely troubleshoots problems to ensure maximum uptime and profitability at each site.
The crucial gap in Context Media’s IT operation was the lack of software that can automate the routine and tedious tasks of remotely managing a large number of terminals. Existing manual updating methods and scripts took too much time to execute and sending technicians out to sites to reboot or troubleshoot systems was proving very expensive.
Another concern was that Context Media does not control the networks that the terminals connect to. These are often behind secure firewalls in hospitals, which are naturally very concerned about data security (HIPAA). This means the company is potentially vulnerable to events outside of its control, a real threat for an advertising business with 2.2 million customers and a small IT department.
When Context Media moved to a digital platform, the choice soon came down to Windows or Linux. Because they were just starting and had no installed base, they were able to choose the most cost-effective operating system that would support Broadsign software. Licence fees make Windows relatively expensive and it is also considered to be less reliable than Linux. That made the choice of Ubuntu easy.
Context Media’s co-founder, Derek Moeller, chose the software package Landscape to automate the management and monitoring of his 600 systems. IT Manager, Matt Coppola, and his team implemented this solution.
Because Context Media uses Landscape as Software as a Service (SaaS), there was no hardware to buy, setup or maintain. All Matt needs to do to manage a Server is associate it with the Landscape account. Matt and his team started using Landscape immediately; the highly intuitive user interface did not require any training. Just one month’s testing on in-house servers was enough before Landscape was rolled out into production.
The Landscape solution addresses the remote managing problems associated with hospital firewalls that limit most inbound communications. It also takes care of and the management of terminals that Context Media do not have push access to.With Landscape in place, Context Media can tell if a terminal is operating properly and the System Administrator is notified if a system is off-line or not responding. At that point, the System Administrator can evaluate the remote terminal by viewing uptime, active processes and network status before determining whether to send an engineer out to fix the remote terminal.
System uptime is the most critical factor for Context Media’s business. When a system is not running, it is not displaying advertising and not generating revenue.
Because Landscape provides remote system monitoring, system faults can be remotely corrected eliminating many on-site maintenance visits. Context Media has greatly reduced their system maintenance costs as a result of this.
Context Media’s advertising performed twice as well this year compared to last year (performance on a per location basis). This is a direct result of a) improved system uptime and b) being able to provide advertisers with proof of both uptime and audience counts. Context Media can now offer more value to its advertisers by guaranteeing maximum audience reach.
By keeping the terminals up to date with the latest security upgrades, Context Media ensures the systems used by its customers are as secure as they can be, minimising the risk of malicious attacks interfering with its customers’ viewing experience.
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