COVID-19 is having a huge impact on the mining industry, with some projects slowing or closing down altogether, while large numbers of knowledge workers and non-key site staff have been required to work from home.

Some mining companies have relocated site workers’ families near sites to avoid “fly in fly out” isolation periods. Others are continuing to work in remote closed communities. The mining industry, however, is heavily reliant on supply chains for its machinery and the delivery of raw materials to customers around the world. Office staff are crucial in understanding and managing these inbound and outbound supply chains.

Maintaining durable business relationships

In February, with the pandemic spreading fast and one suspected case of COVID-19 at one of its central offices, this mining company took action quickly. It called on Orange Business Services to help close one of its Asian operations and commence home working with immediate effect.

To support this outcome, Orange expedited the commissioning of eight new Mobile SSL gateways at locations across the globe spanning North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. In addition, Orange implemented rapid bandwidth upgrades in six of the global gateways’ locations to enable maximum capacity for remote working.

This was just the beginning. Over the coming days and weeks, Orange worked 24/7 to get nearly 27,000 of the customer’s employees working from home. Previously on an average day, the company would have had only around 1,500 users working remotely. Working collaboratively with the customer’s global operations, Orange implemented 17 design changes including new gateway configurations deployed in just three weeks. One gateway, for example, had a tenfold increase in bandwidth capacity within 24 hours.



Upgrades to the Secure Remote Access Service have supplied the required bandwidth for remote users to concurrently access the business applications necessary to do their jobs.

 

All of the customer’s users access the company’s network securely on a private VPN using the Orange mobile SSL solution and company laptops, with some mine site-based workers being supplied standard operating systems so they can continue to work from home.

The upgrades to the Secure Remote Access Service have supplied the required bandwidth for remote users to concurrently access the business applications necessary to do their jobs. These include Microsoft Teams, Office 365, Cisco Webex and the company’s high intensity bespoke graphics applications for geographical data which software supports decision-making throughout the entire mining life cycle.

Orange also implemented traffic engineering for Office 365 and Webex traffic, offloading this traffic onto the users’ own internet network connections. This initiative increased effective gateway bandwidth capacity by 40%, significantly improving the end-user experience. In addition, Orange has implemented intelligent load-balancing to ensure seamless redistribution of users to their nearest available global gateway while managing license capacity. This ensures Gateway availability across the globe at all times.

At the same time, Orange is monitoring non-business traffic and makes continuous recommendations and implementations to protect bandwidth going forward. Blocking some non-business video streaming content delivered an immediate 15% saving on bandwidth, for example.

The customer has also started to roll out end user monitoring using the Visibility as a Service solution from Orange. The solution deploys agents onto the end user desktop to help users identify any compute problems proactively, while providing Orange and its customer with valuable insight into application performance over the VPN connections. This will be a major boon to users working from home, who can’t simply call the IT help desk for support.

Going the extra mile

Orange has brought the full breadth of its expertise to bear across the organization to meet the customer’s initial tight deadlines and keep its employees working through the pandemic.

It has expanded the dedicated team, which has daily customer meetings to continually manage capacity for home workers. The customer’s team works very closely with Orange in a ‘one team’ approach to drive outcomes and ensure there is no drop off in user experience or productivity. This includes regular monitoring of business traffic on the network across time zones for any inconsistencies or bottlenecks.

In these times of heightened awareness on critical services, Orange has managed to keep 100% remote access availability for its customer under extraordinary circumstances and in the face of unprecedented disruption.

From
1,500 to 27,000
employees working from home