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Nitin Agarwal is the President and Group CIO, CTO and Chief Digital Officer of Edelweiss Financial Services. 

The past few months have been, to say the least, a challenge for organizations around the world. Keeping an organization up and running while ensuring that your new at-home workforce is productive and secure is not an easy task.

We at Edelweiss Financial have been affected by this global pandemic, as well. However, our transition from more than 11,000 employees working in 450 offices around the globe to having all of them work from home was made easier as we had already been working on a business continuity plan, although it wasn’t in anticipation of anything on the scale of what is happening today.

As part of that plan, we had been working on moving away from a hardware- and perimeter-based infrastructure to a more software-defined and zero trust-based model. To that end, about six months ago, we successfully deployed Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA). So, when we realized that we needed to implement a private access solution to ensure that our staff and colleagues could gain secure access from home, we turned to Zscaler Private Access (ZPA).

The service was rolled out to our entire staff within 48 hours, and that couldn’t have come at a better time, as our legacy infrastructure wasn’t built to handle the immense growth in traffic brought about by our employees suddenly working from home.

For example, when they were in the office, our employees would hold around 20 to 30 video meetings each day using Microsoft Teams. While working from home, that number has risen to about 2,500 video meetings each day.

In addition, we used to have about 1,000 users logging in concurrently to our various internal networks. These days, we have about 4,000 users concurrently logging into our secure application while working from home. 

Needless to say, increases like this would have killed our VPN infrastructure.

Being a financial services company, the security of our data (and our customer data) is of paramount importance. So even though people are working from home, we could not relax on our security standards.

This became an even greater challenge as we discovered that the majority of our employees used desktop computers in the office and didn’t have company-supplied devices to use at home.

But it was an issue we were able to overcome with ZPA. As of today, about 95 percent of our staff is working from home, and they're fully enabled and accessing internal and external applications using ZIA and ZPA.

In the end, we achieved our goal of securely implementing a work-at-home program for our employees without disruption or loss of productivity. It’s been great for us to implement and enable so many people in such a short time.

What was made clear to us during this entire exercise was that, if your infrastructure is not dependent on any particular hardware and location, you will be in much better shape to successfully handle the many challenges that lie ahead in our growing cloud and mobile world.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Going Virtual: Lessons Learned from Scaling to More Than 6,500 Remote Offices
by Craig Williams, CIO of Ciena

How an Outage Prepared CAPTRUST for a Pandemic
by Jon Meyer, CTO, CAPTRUST

Johnson Controls Accelerated its Cloud Transformation to Deliver Life-Safety Services During COVID-19
by Peter Daly, Director of Network Services – Global Infrastructure, Johnson Controls

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