Some fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies saw the crisis coming as the coronavirus took hold in Asia and started to prepare earlier than most. They worked on the premise that supply chain challenges would intensify, meaning it would be a major operation to keep supplies flowing to customers globally if a pandemic was declared.

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. Countries started to lock down, and knowledge workers were required to work from home by the millions to minimize transmission and for their own health and safety.

Lengthy lockdowns and homeworking have made it difficult to keep supply chains moving. There have been spikes in demand for some products, while consumers have lost interest in others. At the same time, access to labor has been severely disrupted. Enterprise dependence on technology for resilience has never been greater.

It is for this reason that this FMCG multinational reached out to Orange Business at the end of January. It saw the crisis developing and put in an emergency request to implement remote working capacity for thousands of users across the globe. The timelines were extremely aggressive to stay ahead of the pandemic’s course.

Business continuity is paramount in these unprecedented times. Orange and the customer’s in-house teams have worked closely together around the clock.


Putting cloud to the test

Following discussion with the customer, Orange applied ICE (In Case of Emergency) licenses to the existing Mobile SSL solution. This increased the multinational’s remote capacity from 3,500 to 11,000 concurrent users in days.

Although the ICE licenses last for only eight weeks, they bought the multinational time. As the pandemic grew, however, it became apparent the health emergency would be prolonged. It was obvious that the ICE licenses would not suffice.

Orange had to come up with another solution fast to increase capacity. Given the limitations around adding additional servers at the customer’s regional data centers, including shipping issues and physical access to sites, the team decided on a Virtual SSL solution hosted in the customer’s Microsoft Azure public cloud.

Instead of having key functions, such as remote working, hosted at the Orange hub, the Orange team spun up virtual machines in the Microsoft Azure cloud. The team was able to design, build, configure and test the new Virtual SSL gateway in days. A similar hardware upgrade would have taken months. Three virtual gateways have already been deployed, and the customer now has 16,000 users working from home – with 100% remote availability. ICE licenses have been turned off, and the multinational has dropped back to its Mobile SSL connections.

The knowledge workers accessing the network remotely are using Microsoft Teams as well as SAP business applications. They also can use bespoke back-office systems for processing supplier payments and logistics planning.

Orange is currently mirroring the same virtual spin-up concept to create a Virtual SSL gateway via Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the Americas, which is that region’s chosen cloud platform. Orange is also looking at monitoring options with the customer. This will allow it to get better insight into end-user experience and performance as homeworking projects continue across the world.

Continuing to serve its customers

Business continuity is paramount in these unprecedented times. Orange and the customer’s in-house teams have worked closely together around the clock. This has allowed them to come up with solutions for securing supplies, manufacturing and logistics despite the disruption of COVID-19. The customer and Orange continue to collaborate on a regular basis to ensure business and supply chains keep running throughout the crisis.

From 3,500 to 11,000
concurrent remote users in days

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