Realtors Sold on Security, Off-Site Support

In the booming real estate market, Shorewood Realtors can't afford to have its network go bust. The company is testing Cisco Security Agents technology to help it weather viruses and other rogue software.

In the booming real estate market, Shorewood Realtors cant afford to have its network go bust. Thats why the Los Angeles-based realtor has outsourced all network operations to Praxis Computing, a local Cisco Systems Inc. solutions provider.

Over the past 10 years, Praxis has built and managed Shorewoods entire network, which spans a central office and six branch locations throughout Los Angeles County. Next up, Praxis in April will pilot test CSAs (Cisco Security Agents) across selected Shorewood servers and desktops. The intrusion detection software, which Cisco acquired last year, will work side by side with anti-virus software and Cisco firewalls to defend Shorewoods network from probing eyes and rogue software.

The CSA pilot test comes at a critical time for Shorewood. More than 350 agents across seven offices depend on the firms network to manage listings, schedule meetings and communicate with residential buyers and sellers. Moreover, Shorewoods Web site serves nearly 1,000 visitors a day.

Thanks in large part to these systems, Shorewoods sales volume reached $1.9 billion last year, up a healthy 9 percent from 2002.

"Buying and selling a home is still a very personal process," said Mike Collins, general manager of Shorewood. "Our systems enhance our personal touch and make us look even more professional."

Now, consider the potential impact of Shorewoods network going dark. "Our agents are dependent upon the network seven days a week," said Lynn Edwards, chief financial officer at Shorewood. "Any downtime means a potential lost deal. But beyond downtime, the additional costs and liabilities of network intrusions are serious concerns for us."

Even before the CSA rollout, Shorewood took a vigilant security stand with virus protection and security patches. "However, the cost of constantly distributing security patches to all of our desktops and servers has become unmanageable," Edwards said. "Its a disruptive process. The [CSA] will free us from the burden of constant updates, saving us real time and money."

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