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How H-Energy is combating COVID-19 challenges with 2020 Tech-Edge

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By Vikas Gupta

Scene 1
It is the end of January and probably the beginning of February when, during the Chinese New Year, a consignment which is to reach Mumbai gets a rescheduling to February end…(The bells go ringing little louder than usual….to the ears of the hyper-philosophers….)

Scene 2
It is the end of winter of February and the beginning of March, when all are set to go on Holi holidays, very well realising that this Holi is not going to be a usual Holi, but one set amidst the growing fears of the dreaded Coronavirus. Everyone is concerned that such a situation is unwarranted, but little does anyone anticipate that the malady is going to set the entire world confined to the doors of their home-sweet-home.

Scene 3
We are back after Holi, but much before the date when Maharashtra government mandated all employees to work from home till March 31, and companies begin taking voluntarily initiative in many parts of the country to combat the crisis.

H-Energy, the energy start-up venture of The Hiranandanis who are premium realty developers in Mumbai, in these tougher times of prevailing infectious environment, is all set – unlike industry veterans and many others who are unable to realise the quantum of impact – to welcome the government orders with both arms stretched, as its business continuity planning has its roots deep seated in the firms of reality and is assertive to take its first flight of fancy.

“H-Energy partnered with various top level global corporations like Zscaler, Nutanix and a few others, last year itself to pursue the management’s passion of ‘www’ aka ‘world-wide-work’ or ‘work from anywhere’, little realising that this will be the best tool for higher productivity in such unprecedented eventualities like in current times” says Gupta.

Business enablement
In the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, when industry was suddenly caught unaware by the government decision to shut offices, the entire 100 per cent of the employee strength of H-Energy went on work-from-home. With appropriate centralised internet access and private access in place, everyone was enabled to work seamlessly from home, while ensuring that the information and data are protected at all times.

Employees are using digital tools for online video meetings, Linux-based systems for encrypted voice conversations, ZPA for making online data entry and for accessing various applications and many more. Secured access has been enabled for all internal applications which have been hosted on our on-premise data centre, using the zero trust security platforms of Zscaler and Nutanix.

COVID-19 has given the corporate world, an opportunity to brush the dust from their so called agile infrastructure to create effective digital engagement internally as well externally. This is like a real-life, no-lag testing of ABS, airbags, side bars and many other security features in any four wheeler.

Our best innovative technological edge came in the form of our foresighted investment in Linux based EPABX which continues to work in an off-office environment from day-one, with all users now based remotely and more thinly spread than ever, all across the globe. This enabled us to be connected 24X7 with zero spike in the communication cost.

Risk mitigation
I believe that the overall risk to the data has increased manifold as almost all organisations have opened their remote working solutions and options for their respective stakeholders; hence the on-premise data centre was a good decision taken by them almost two years ago, thus showing the foresightedness of top management.

  • With the centralised internet-gateway, it is easier to detect malware infections as well as botnets in the network that could be connecting to unauthorised sites in the background and thus curtail theft of internet bandwidth and in-turn enable higher throughputs for users
  • When the applications’ IP is masked and they are not exposed to the internet, unauthorised access to corporate environment becomes impossible. The service, here, enables the applications to connect to users via inside-out connectivity and not by extending network
  • Local breakouts provide faster and secure internet access without security appliances
  • SSL/TLS inspection secures against threats in encrypted traffic
  • Further the administration of this distributed infrastructure is simplified via centralised management console, consolidated logins, one rule set for all users
  • Combined with the end-point encryption, deep security, intrusion prevention systems and other threat aversion measures, H-Energy could confidently enable its IT staff to sleep enough at nights.

As part of preventive measures, H-Energy also enabled geo-attendance at a short notice, so that touching of the entry points could be averted.

(The author is the Chief Information Officer at Hiranandani Energy Group of Companies)

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