Global FMCG takes an agile cloud-centric approach to accelerate home working

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, consumers are dramatically changing their purchasing habits. Quarantine and public lock downs have restricted shopping trips, while significantly increasing online spending. And although some fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are benefiting from record levels of demand, they are struggling with supply chain issues.

Orange Business helped a leading global FMCG to rapidly increase its network and remote access capacity to support 60,000 employees working from home, thereby ensuring that its supply chain keeps moving.

The gateway was delivered within one week and ensured there was enough interconnect bandwidth to Microsoft Azure to deal with the changing traffic flows that teleworking creates.


A positive stress test for cloud

COVID-19 has created a challenging business climate for FMCGs. They are facing new challenges, such as long delays at international borders, with shops, bars and restaurants closing. By enabling employees to work from home, this customer has been able to continue to service its supermarket customers and keep its product moving from factory to consumer.

The lack of clarity with regards to operations and what is achievable has been a thorn in the side of many FMCGs during the pandemic, causing unplanned shortages. Here, the customer has shown real resilience, underscoring the robust nature of its agile cloud-centric strategy.

The customer initiated a work-from-home strategy within days. While they had remote working solutions in place, there was not enough capacity to support the majority of the global workforce. Due to the lock down, Orange could not be on site to increase capacity with new hardware, so needed to find solutions to ease pressure on the network and allow employees to offload traffic closer to home.

Orange had already taken proactive action on networking and remote access inventory for the customer, so was able to rapidly calculate the existing maximum scaling capabilities. We knew that the customer could expand capabilities by 100% in Europe with the hardware, software and licenses it already had. However, this was not the case in the Americas and Asia Pacific. Therefore, Orange had to come up with a robust solution that could be implemented very quickly. The result was to connect virtual SSL VPN gateways into Microsoft Azure in each of these two regions. Orange followed up by also delivering this solution in Europe.

The gateway was delivered within one week and ensured there was enough interconnect bandwidth to Azure to deal with the changing traffic flows that teleworking creates. This migration was critical in getting the huge influx of extra staff quickly set up to work from home, primarily using Microsoft 365 applications.

Orange also provided outbound access to Zscaler for VPN users and cloud workloads. This was designed to save bandwidth by allowing Microsoft 365 traffic to be securely offloaded onto the Internet, instead of back to the hub. In terms of security, Orange used firewalls to protect the SSL VPN cluster and will use them in the future to support the customer’s cloud strategy.

Continuing to service customers remotely

Over the past year, Orange and the customer had developed an agile approach to network transformation. This way of working helped both parties quickly respond to the demands created by the COVID-19 crisis. Within weeks, Orange helped the customer limit any disruption across continents and time zones, allowing thousands of its staff to work from home effectively. The customer and Orange continue to work together closely to make sure the disruption caused by the pandemic is as small as possible as it unfolds across the world.

60,000 employees working from home