COVID-19 is impacting every manufacturer across the world in some way. But where parts are being manufactured for critical applications in the nuclear energy, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the pressure is on to retain business continuity at all costs.

Suppliers for these potentially hazardous sectors must continue to manufacture and support solutions in these critical infrastructures. Although they have business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place, this pandemic is different from other crisis scenarios. The business challenge is much more intense because it affects the entire world and can change rapidly without notice.

This is how a multinational manufacturer for critical infrastructure sectors mobilized tens of thousands of knowledge workers to work from home and coped with the added stress of a security emergency resulting in its Active Directory (AD) servers going down. If attackers can access AD systems, they potentially have access to all connected users' accounts, databases and applications.



Bandwidth was scaled up at the data centers supporting mobile SSL VPN connections to meet capacity demands for secure corporate access from any device for its business applications.

 

Supporting customers through the Coronavirus

With the Coronavirus beginning to take hold, this multinational started to get its employees working from home to protect their safety. Initially, it asked Orange Business Services to increase its SSL licenses to support increased remote access. Orange was able to show the customer how to do this through a self-service portal.

It then became apparent that this would not be enough as more countries enter lockdown. Firstly, bandwidth was scaled up at the data centers supporting mobile SSL VPN connections to meet capacity demands for secure corporate access from any device for its business applications.

In addition, remote user licenses were increased from hundreds to thousands. Due to the large number of licenses to be activated in a short timeframe, this involved an intricate coordination project between the customer’s in-house teams and Orange teams around the world. Extensive system alterations had to be carried out, including changes to IP pools, which contain groups of IP addresses within networks, and routing configurations, for example.

Emergency management

In the middle of instigating a large and complex work-from-home program, the manufacturer suffered a major security problem that affected its AD servers. This immediately cut off remote access for many users.

The customer asked Orange to deal with this security issue as a matter of urgency. To increase security in its SSL VPN, Orange deployed Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) via Microsoft Azure cloud services. This is a brand new, non-standard approach for Orange. It was, however, the only way of getting the company’s security shored up fast, reconnecting users, and making them productive again.

MFA is a security system that verifies a user’s identity by requesting multiple credentials. This untested approach would typically take several days to prepare and complete under normal circumstances. Orange worked around the clock and managed to deliver the new authentication process successfully in 24 hours.

Just before the pandemic hit, Orange had started to deploy a Cisco Webex cloud-based suite of productivity tools. Due to the move to home working, the customer requested the number of licenses be increased quickly. This has ensured that dispersed teams can continue to collaborate.

During the march of COVID-19, Orange has also been working on a voice deployment for the customer. This involves the company migrating to Orange Business Together as a Service for unified communications via the cloud, together with SIP trunking and number porting capabilities. This project is firmly on track, despite the Orange team being drawn into other Coronavirus triggered emergencies for the customer.

The power of working as one team

Working together as one team, Orange and the customer’s IT department have enabled home working for thousands of users successfully while dealing with a major security alert. This has allowed the company to continue to function against all the odds. At the same time, the Orange account team has managed to stay on schedule for a major voice deployment that will be central to the manufacturer’s business in the new normal.