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Rajesh Ganesan, VP, ManageEngine, Zoho Corp. Discusses Their BCP Amid COVID

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A pandemic upon the world was unprecedented and the situations it forced us to work in were unprecedented as well. Remote working came easily only for some organisations and for others, it was a difficult but fairly successful transformation. 

The IT management division of Zoho Corp, ManageEngine, was able to make this transformation rather efficiently. With an employee base of 3000, they were able to switch to remote working in just 3 days! Adding to this, they have been helping around 1,80,000 organisations to maintain business continuity globally. 

Rajesh Ganesan, Vice President at ManageEngine gets into an exclusive conversation with Express Computer’s Radhika Udas to share how they were able to pull off remote working successfully and what changes will the workforce see in coming years.

Please elaborate on ManageEngine, Zoho’s IT management division. How is it helping during the pandemic?

ManageEngine, the IT management division of Zoho Corporation, is in the business of managing technology infrastructure end to end. We offer products for IT service management, IT operations management, unified endpoint management, identity and access management, IT security, and IT analytics. The suite has around 100 products, 50 of which are free tools. Our strategy is to have simple, focused point products that also integrate contextually to effectively solve a larger problem.

In the present situation, it is a completely different challenge that we see across the spectrum in terms of difficulties that companies are going through. For large enterprises, they are primarily concerned about how to enable a secure remote working environment. They did not have the tools, they did have the expertise, the cultural readiness so this is why they came to us. With smaller organisations, the challenge was to keep their business operations running.

Understanding the difficulties faced by businesses, we made available fully functional versions of the secure remote access toolkit, comprising Access Manager Plus and Remote Access Plus, to IT teams free of cost till July 1, 2020.

What is your Business Continuity Plan amid the pandemic?

Long before COVID-19, we had made the switch to the cloud for all our operations leveraging our own products, with very little dependency on on-premises technology. It also helped that we had our business continuity plan (BCP) tested during a couple of previous, lesser disasters including the massive floods in 2015 followed by Cyclone Vardah in 2016, both of which greatly affected operations at our development headquarters in Chennai. Passing those tests has allowed us to respond to this dire situation by allowing all our employees to work remotely from safe locations, with no major drop in productivity. Additionally, our data centers are globally distributed and each primary data center has a disaster recovery (DR) site with full capacity; so when there is an emergency, we will move our services from primary to DR site without any downtime. As a policy, we always build our data centers with remote management and monitoring capabilities. So it is easy to initiate BCP protocols when there is a situation.

How do you believe technology is going to help us get through working from home?

Most businesses have moved their communication and collaboration tools completely to the cloud, so employees can get a large portion of their work done regardless of location. Specialized applications for each business function, like a customer relationship management (CRM) system for sales and customer support, are also available from the cloud, and they all come with layers of security inherently built in. Of course, some sectors like finance and healthcare have been unsure about making the move to cloud. But the present situation is an opportunity for them to reconsider their stance and re-evaluate cloud migration.

What does ManageEngine foresee to be some of the key shifts in workforce management and security in the future?

Earlier, many IT teams worked under the impression that they would have complete control if they were able to gain visibility over the office environment. However, with the traditional perimeter being broken to pieces due to remote working, organisations need to ensure they have the same visibility over the extended workplace. We will see steps in this regard, such as a complete mapping of all users, devices, applications and data flows across the network. 

We will also see IT teams doubling down on increasing their training activities, aimed at inculcating situational awareness in their employees. With heightened dependency on cloud services, organizations with only local network-based security mechanisms will now look to incorporate cloud security access brokers (CASB), Zero Trust models, and other security mechanisms.

What kind of technologies should businesses look at investing in?

To give remote employees the access they need to exclusive information within the corporate network, organisations must provide secure remote access. This is where remote privileged session management tools help. These tools offer secure channels through which employees can access information and perform operations remotely. The tools provide access only to users with the right permissions, ensure remote sessions last only for the required time, and record all actions users carry out in every session. 

To provide protection at the endpoint level, organisations should consider investing in endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions. While an endpoint protection platform (EPP), which includes anti-virus and a firewall, is mostly preventive and provides the first line of security, EDR is a level above EPP and provides much more granular insights when it comes to endpoint security. Furthermore, the influx of more remote devices requires investment in a unified management solution, wherein they will be able to manage and secure such devices from a single console. 

  1. What are ManageEngine’s immediate milestones?

Our customers’ consumption, business and operating models are going to see a lot of change, and we realise we need to divert focus to the areas where our customers will need more help. These areas will revolve around remote work, enabling collaboration, ensuring productivity; hence, our focus will be to help the technology teams to enable those activities for their business. 

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