Wireless communications infrastructure company SBA Communications knew it was likely going to remain one of the smaller of that industry’s “big three” (behind American Tower and Crown Castle), and CEO Jeffrey Stoops was perfectly OK with that. As long as SBA Communications continued to prize being relevant and innovative over being big, they would cement their reputation.
“We were never going to be the largest,” said Stoops in a conversation with Inside Towers managing Editor Jim Fryer on an episode of the “Tower Talks” podcast. “Instead, we focused on trying to build and acquire and operate the best quality assets that we could. Assets that would stand the test of time and that would always be relevant to our customers. Assets that could navigate not just where the industry was at the time, but where it was headed.”
When SBA Communications began using SaaS-based apps like Innotas, ExpenseWatch, and Yammer, they implemented Microsoft’s Active Directory Federation Service (AD FS) and although it met their needs at the time, AD FS proved challenging to integrate. The process was time-consuming and expensive, and slowed SBA’s digital evolution. As cloud-based apps began to become more and more vital to their operation, it was clear something had to change.
A Migration Impasse
When a new version of AD FS was released shortly after SBA Communications adopted the service, the company was faced with another arduous and expensive integration process. Instead, they decided on the slightly lesser of two evils – not integrating the new version, and instead running two live versions of AD FS. It was clearly not ideal. “Integration was so painful the first time around that we dreaded having to migrate those same apps into the new environment,” says SBA Communications Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jorge Grau. “When resources are scarce, migrating a product that’s already working never becomes a priority.”
To tackle their unwieldy and inefficient system, SBA Communications began looking at IDaaS solutions. The decision would involve more than just the bottom line, as the company considered a number of factors. “In the end, it wasn’t just about dollars,” says Grau. “It came down to product functionality and which provider would best support us in integrating new apps. Company reputation, customer interviews, and existing integrations with SaaS providers also played a significant role. Mobile Device Management (MDM) capabilities were the icing on the cake.”
A Fix For Everything
SBA Communications prides itself on staying ahead of the curve, and they were being weighed down by inefficient systems. Idaptive allowed for simpler integration with cloud apps and mobile device flexibility. But more importantly, it allowed them to – in Stroop’s words – keep an eye on “where the industry was headed” by improving security measures in light of several high-profile data breaches in the communications industry. With Idaptive, SBA Communications could more easily enforce passwords on devices, encrypt mobile communications, and could even eliminate proprietary SBA Communications email from any mobile device at a moment’s notice.
Not only was Idaptive’s solution more efficient and empowering, it saved SBA Communications an estimated $50,000-$60,000 a year in AD FS costs and negated the need for a separate MDM solution entirely. Integrations take significantly less time, and there is no redundancy and fewer security vulnerabilities.
As it stands among the “big three,” SBA Communications was now poised to challenge size and scale with innovation, flexibility, and security. And they are perfectly OK with that.