Business IT COVID-19 response

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by elvis, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Eh. Things are *fine* here.
     
  2. OP
    OP
    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    My favourite modern philosopher Sam Harris talks to Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg about businesses doing remote (or as Matt calls it, "distributed", as there's no "centre" to his "remote") access. Matt's organisation now owns several other brands, and has scaled to 1200 people with no head office or central location.

    Clearly not viable for everyone. But a good video to flick your CxOs if they're having a meltdown in this current time.



    You've got a whole lot of services to rely on too (not to mention infinite gov-bucks). But I do think there'll be a downturn in physical things being sold in the coming year as post-Rona belts are tightened.
     
  3. Frozen_Hell

    Frozen_Hell Member

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    A large telco (no prizes for guessing who), we've had WFH capability for ages and staff have always been encouraged to use it on a regular basis (I was typically doing WFH 1 day a week). O365, MS teams etc. and VPN for internally only accessible resources. Everyone has laptops (people were forced off of desktops a couple of years ago), work mobiles, headsets etc. so its pretty easy to continue working. Within the area I work we've upped our contact points, e.g. very short daily stand-ups and the like within our teams and also for those on programs of work. This is working for 10s of thousands of staff right now.

    Well who I work for is fortunate in that they are in a position where they have actually brought forward $500 million of capital expenditure that was originally slated for 2nd half of FY21 as a result of COVID-19 to help inject some extra cash into vendors/suppliers.
     
  4. chip

    chip Member

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    I'd hazard that lot of privacy breaches are happening these days from people forwarding emails from colleagues calling in sick
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
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  5. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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  6. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    My company went through the hard yards for this back in 2013. We established a yearly pc refresh project to move the majority of users onto laptops, included VPN in the SOE with all users automatically getting access, no approval etc required. We had been rolling out laptops with built in 3g/lte, but moved instead to a policy which made getting a work mobile phone easier for the majority of employees and negotiated a shared data pool with our telco to avoid surprise data bills etc from users tethering. On top of this we moved into the o365 world with email and skype for business for phones, so a users office can essentially be where ever their laptop and internet access is. Combined with VPN, about the only thing a user can't effectively do out of the office is kill trees.

    During the last few weeks the only real pain points we've run into is a lack of hardware. Our parent company put a stop to our yearly pc refresh program when we were acquired 4yrs or so ago, so a lot of our laptop fleet is well aged. There are some positions where desktops have remained, either through being customer facing and never needing to be mobile, or because of performance requirements. Getting these people onto a mobile solution has soaked up any spare equipment we had, and in many cases we've had to send the desktop hardware home with those users.

    We have one particular LoB app that will not function correctly on screens that run the devils resolution (1366x768), of course probably half of our laptops only run at that... Those users have had no choice but to collect a dock and monitor to work on as well. I'm not sure I'd consider this a failing, I expect people to be working from home for a while yet and if they're to be properly productive they're going to need more than a 12" laptop screen.

    The only other real issue we've had is with users that do not have a work mobile and don't have home internet. The age demographic of our workforce has made that a little more common than I was expecting. For those users we've had to organise 4g usb sticks to facilitate working from home. We've had several issues too with users that have home internet, but don't understand the interaction between walls and wifi, and are somehow surprised that it's really hard to connect when you're on the opposite side of your house to the AP and only have 1 bar of signal.


    Our parent company has been an entirely different kettle of fish. Their proportion of laptops in the fleet is significantly less than ours, meaning they've been shipping a lot more desktops home and taking a lot more calls for help assembling them. Trying to explain to your average user that the cables go in the hole that's the same shape, just like the toy you give toddlers.. well that only gets you so far. They also are not nearly as set up for mobile working like we are. They've had to manually put people into VPN groups, install VPN clients and even train their support staff on how to access machines that are connected via VPN. Add to this the majority of their sites are still on desk phones. All in all I'm glad I work on my side of the fence, not theirs.


    One interesting, and perhaps inevitable thing that has come from this is upper management realising that a vast majority of its workforce can indeed work from home, and that perhaps paying rent for an office isn't needed. The irony that it's the upper management of our parent company looking at us working from home seamlessly deciding that their own staff should be able to work from home permanently without having gone through the adjustments we have seems to be lost on them. I suspect various property managers are looking at their kpis/bonuses and rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of all the savings they can make closing offices around the country.
     
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  7. wazza

    wazza Member

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    This surprised me too, a large number of my users seem to need their hand held for everything, but so far most seem to have managed somewhat decently at moving their equipment (including desktops in some cases) home - though a large part of this was I ensured that our (temporary) WFH policy included a very plainly worded section advising that IT will not under any circumstances come to your home to assist with setup or any issues, if you need help that cannot be provided remotely you are responsiblle for returning with the equipment to your local office. At this stage though we haven't let everyone work from home, as there are some jobs that have been deemed to only be able to be done from the office (fortunately not IT!) and coincidentally this covers some of our less technical users (who have mostly managed to get their own home PCs set up themselves, but I'd guarantee would ask IT to set up work PCs at their house if we didn't refuse).

    We've unfortunately had to let a bunch of casual employees go, and no doubt large spend will be reviewed far more closely than before - but the industry I work in was already in a bit of a downturn before corona so we were already being more cautious with $$ anyway.

    I've been strongly advising people with laptops to take home their monitor/keyboard/mouse too, to ensure that they're able to work longer periods comfortably. A lot argued they didn't need to, but saw sense when I told them to imagine using a laptop keyboard for 8hrs.

    For my users it was actually the younger ones who didn't have suitable internet - eg only have 4G on their phone and maybe hotspot their phone to their home PC if they have one. In our case we're not in an industry that has been ordered to close (and if/when we are ordered to close WFH will cease, as the core business can't continue if the production lines/warehouses are shut) and our provisions for people who are in positions that don't have to be done from the office are: a) WFH but note the company will not pay for costs associated with doing so, b) take leave (annual, LSL or unpaid if desired) or c) work with your manager to ensure your workspace within the office is suitably isolated - so we're not forcing people to WFH, if they don't have a suitable place to do so, have an inability to do so (some have mentioned if their kids are at home they will not be able to focus on work) or if they don't have a suitable/working connection (so people can't use the excuse "my internet broke so I couldn't work") then they're required to choose one of the other options.

    I'm hopeful that if everyone does the right thing and actually work as efficiently/effectively as when they're in the office it may change upper managements views on remote work/WFH. Until now it's been officially banned, and basically no one has been allowed to access the work network from outside of our buildings (fortunately with some exceptions, such as emails, and we're not at the point where our salesforce/cloud storage is blocked outside of our buildings, though these aren't used by most), which realistically puts the business at risk (only copy of data being on the users laptop - and in some cases users "back up" their data but keep said backup in their laptop bag...) but hopefully this will be the catalyst for change.
     
  8. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I'm not surprised. There's a reality here that people either need to get their act together or head to Centrelink. The motivation to try more than just the basics are evident.
     
  9. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Aussie researchers have come up with a "global Internet pressure map". Apparently having started collecting information prior to COVID19 and now, they can measure the change in "pressure" on networks.

    https://kasprdata.com/index.php/global-internet-pressure/

    The values are apparently in percent. Australia is averaging around 2% change according to them, which doesn't at all seem to align with what I'm either hearing anecdotally, or what I'm seeing in the media. (Unless that number is right, and a 2% change was enough to break us?).
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
  10. wazza

    wazza Member

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    The traffic data is from 2 weeks ago though - while there were some companies starting to move people to WFH I don't think there had been a mass exodus yet, it was still worthy of reporting in the media when a company made that decision etc, and by and large people were going about their normal day.
    Also while anecdotal still to me it seems that it's actually more the phone systems/phone links between telcos that are melting down, not really the internet.
     
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  11. flain

    flain Member

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    I work for Citrix in the networking space (netscaler/ADC/SDWAN) but also work closely with the rest of the teams. I’m in a presales role which means I’m involved in making sure what a customer wants to buy will actually work.

    The universities were first to ramp up large scale CVAD (Citrix virtual apps and desktops) with us. When the restrictions were placed on travel from China they took a huge hit financially as many students cancelled tuition for the year. We were pulled in to an urgent meeting at the uni one morning where they had advised us they wanted a solution ready in 3 days (semester start) to handle some 6000 concurrent users. We ended up deploying on AWS in HK to support the Chinese students with a few solutions to remove the great firewalls performance hits. A couple of weeks later they asked us to extend the solution to Sydney for local students and staff as the chances of Covid19 restrictions becoming more real.

    The last two weeks government has been stepping up CVAD and regular old SSLVPN capacity (mostly health departments). Some challenges though as each govt department almost operates on their own and implement their own solutions, purchases their own stuff. Simple capacity upgrades from say 500 to 2000 users are easy but the bigger asks can be more challenging. As an example we had one customer ask what it would take for 1million+ users - running that concurrency on AWS or Azure is not cost effective compared to big tin with crypto hardware. I also wonder how many CPU cores there are in AWS/Azure in AU as more of this stuff happens. SSL/TLS can be a real drag on CPUs when you’re talking large user counts.
     
  12. ipv6ready

    ipv6ready Member

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    We cant keep up with demand for upgrades in consumer, enterprise and government. Only backward numbers are from corporate division.
     
  13. phrosty-boi

    phrosty-boi Member

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    We put our Covid plan in place about a month ago, recalled any spare phones and laptops from our branch sites, ordered a bunch of refurb units for staff to work from home
    Provided deskphone kits and laptop kits to selected staff to work offsite with documentation
    Made a specific SOE for the laptops which can be user agnostic with a local account
    Already had VPN so that was easy and our ERP can operate independent of VPN with most users already using it that way anyway

    Apart from the first few days this week when we had an influx of remote working support calls it's been pretty smooth, getting more work done from home it feels like without the distractions of working at the office tbh, gives us some time to knock over a few small projects as well
     
  14. GumbyNoTalent

    GumbyNoTalent Member

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    Everyone already self isolated was watching netflix so network was already stressed.
     
  15. Tinian

    Tinian Member

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    Citrix farm ramped up from ~4,000 daily users to 35,000 in a week. Minor teething problems but is usable.
    Yes, Big T is really good at that, as you'd expect them to be.
     
  16. chook

    chook Member

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    The global workforce has been working from home for a month or more now. I work from home normally so no issue for me. There were a few issues with the VPN the first couple of days but capacity was increased quickly and the problem went away.

    We have had some large customers delay starting projects, presumably due to reprioritising expenditure (is this a need or a want?). This quarter (all 4 days of it) and next quarter doesn't look super good but it wont break us.
     
  17. CrazyDez

    CrazyDez Member

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    I'm an external consultant. I've worked from home for years, and it is my preferred method, with face to face interaction as needed. This is true for about half my employees as well.

    I have lots of observations, but I will make just one.

    Last year's fuckwit managers who insist that workers be onsite for productivity reasons, are this year's fuckwit managers who have always known about the productivity benefits of working from home.
     
  18. juz88

    juz88 Member

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    work for an entertainment company and we have had to purchase some very expensive laptops for our animators and VFX artists.. like close 5k for laptop with a 2080 in it.

    Pretty amazed at the amount of people who don't have internet at home and asking for a 4G dongle(impossible to get atm)..how do people survive without internet at home?
     
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  19. power

    power Member

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    they have internet, they just won't use it for work.
     
  20. OP
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    elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    VFX artists live at work. Not even kidding.
     

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