Lockdowns, closed border crossings and airport and port restrictions are testing logistics companies like never before. Supply chains are complex at the best of times, but keeping them intact to deliver vital supplies in a pandemic is an enormous challenge.

Logistics experts are working overtime to plan cargo deliveries, search out alternative routes, prioritize critical shipments and keep supply chains moving. This has been made even more difficult with logistics teams dispersed and working from home.

Ensuring that these teams are securely connected and able to collaborate is vital to keeping supply chains intact during the coronavirus crisis. This is why a global logistics expert asked Orange Business to rapidly put together a homeworking strategy for its global workforce. The company saw the coronavirus spreading in Asia, where 30% of its business is, and recognized lockdowns were imminent. It was looking to stay one step ahead of the crisis.

The dedicated mobile SSL platform is distributed across three major data centers around the world.


Keeping cargo moving

The company gave Orange a three-week window to get the majority of its global workforce, approximately 45,000 users, working from home. This was a significant challenge given that prior to the pandemic it had a maximum of 4,000 users working remotely at any given time.

The customer had always insisted on a dedicated mobile SSL platform, as opposed to a shared option. This worked to its advantage as Orange could react fast and there was no risk of knock-on effect from parallel activities with other customers.

The dedicated mobile SSL platform is distributed across three major data centers around the world. There were increased risks in taking the platform from 4,000 to 10,000 in terms of interruptions. The customer was prepared, however, to accept any possible instability in order to activate its homeworking plan quickly. SSL gateways were introduced step-by-step over two weeks, with Orange and the customer’s IT team working around the clock to complete a process that would normally take a month. The platform coped with the additional users and there have been no disruptions to the service.

This was only the start. The customer then needed to get an additional 35,000 users up and running at home with robust connectivity. Orange came up with two solutions and ran them in parallel. The first was to spin up a virtual mobile SSL platform in the customer’s private cloud, which is a non-standard solution. The customer had already said it would not accept a flexible SSL on a shared platform. Further investigation showed that this would take time to test and deliver and was impossible in the limited time available.

This decision triggered the second option: the deployment of Zscaler’s Private Access (ZPA). The customer was already using Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA) for its security so was familiar with the product portfolio. ZPA is a cloud service that provides zero trust remote access to applications running in the cloud. Using this approach, applications no longer require access to the network or the use of a VPN. ZPA provided the additional capacity the company needed for home workers.

Bandwidth was increased at all three of the customer’s data centers, including increasing network access speed in one data center in Asia. The latter can be a challenge to get done quickly, but thanks to the good relationship Orange had with the local circuit provider, it was delivered on time.

The company’s home users are using standard Microsoft tools as well as bespoke software for logistics tracking. Orange calculated the bandwidth that each remote user would need to successfully run these applications. So far performance and user experience have matched requirements.

Digital support for logistics planning

Creating a resilient supply chain that is flexible and can be altered around geographies is essential in getting critical supplies to their destinations during the pandemic.

Orange has enabled this logistics company to redesign its approach to deal with the transportation challenges COVID-19 is throwing up. This is unlikely to be the last global disturbance. Orange is already talking with this customer about how it can shore up its mid- and long-term remote working strategies.

increase in remote users