Cloud Tech Propels Businesses Into Future of Remote Work

 How businesses are adapting to a worldwide spike in work-from-home demands following the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Tom Mangan

By Tom Mangan October 05, 2020

Cloud technologies are a lifeline to businesses that rapidly switched to a remote workforce to fight COVID-19. This paradigm shift to work-from-home has companies rethinking the technologies that empower employees to get work done.

Companies need to take a holistic approach to manage the technical challenges of enabling remote workers during and after the global health crisis, according to Satish Yadavalli, vice president for global cloud and infrastructure services (CIS) at Wipro Limited, one of India’s top global IT services businesses.

“There is a huge urgency to reimagine the workspace,” Yadavalli said in an interview for Tech Barometer, a podcast show from The Forecast by Nutanix.

Employees want the same usability they enjoy in smartphones, web apps and personalized shopping services, Yadavalli said. This requires CIOs and IT managers to put a lot of thought into how employees will use technology to get work done inside and outside company offices.

“Every employee expects an enterprise to deliver the same level of user experience, which is easy and simple to onboard themselves and consume,” he said. “If our organizations are to attract and retain talent, then the type of workspace and flexibility organizations can offer will determine the future.”

Yadavalli went on to explain why Wipro’s experience underscores the importance of finding the right mix of cloud tools and technical talents to embrace the full potential of remote work.

Wipro Responds to the Pandemic

Wipro is a global IT services giant based in Bangalore, India, that helps organizations find effective ways to deploy tools from enterprise technology providers like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. It manages nearly 5,000 variants of applications customized to companies’ needs in oil and gas, healthcare, banking and financial services, and other industries.

Yadavalli explained how Wipro jumped into hyperdrive as the pandemic emerged. Many of Wipro’s nearly 175,000 employees scattered across the globe already worked remotely when the pandemic hit the scene early in 2020. Having a robust set of technologies in place helped Wipro adapt rapidly.

“We could scale employee workspaces on-demand leveraging public cloud and our established Virtuadesk framework for secured access to customer business network and deliver our services seamlessly in difficult times,” Yadavalli said.

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The pandemic arrived just as Wipro started preparing its first-quarter financial results. Quarterly announcements require tight security protocols and extreme confidentiality while providing full access to everybody who needs the information.

“Because of the lockdown, none of our finance folks could come to the office,” Yadavalli said. “So, we had to deliver them access to all mission-critical ERP and financial tools from home. Within 12 hours, we were able to enable access to all these applications safely and securely to all our finance executives.”

Wipro announced its financial results on schedule, just like previous quarters.

Helping Clients Transcend Legacy Technologies

Many Wipro customers had a bumpier ride because legacy technologies made it all but impossible to scale up a remote-work system. Wipro helped them work with cloud giants like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

“The hyperscalers accommodated their business demands and got them out of the crisis,” Yadavalli said.  

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The cloud technologies that make this possible lean heavily on virtualization, creating hypercoverged replicas of servers, switches and other hardware. That’s one area where Nutanix’s software-defined cloud technologies proved essential to Wipro’s pandemic response.

“By partnering with Nutanix, who is also a leader in the software-defined stacks, we were able to build a unique value proposition called Wipro Virtual Desk,” Yadavalli said.

This software proved crucial in the shift to remote work. Wipro’s virtual desktop user base jumped by a factor of 10 to 12.

“This is all because of the power of a software-defined infrastructure, which we built for them. And we're able to scale this out with exceptional user experience.”

Meeting Demands for More Remote-Work Capacity

Yadavalli said more than half a million users ran Wipro’s virtual desktop platform before COVID-19 arrived on the scene.

“When the pandemic happened, most customers asked us to double the infrastructure capacity,” he said.

Wipro helped many clients by converting disaster recovery infrastructure into production environments. This posed serious challenges for companies that lacked on-premises infrastructure.

“So, we had to create solution reference architectures and build all the workloads on hyperscalers, integrate these two environments and provide a single-pane-of-glass solution.”

Wipro’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering was a vital part of that solution.

“Fortunately, we were able to quickly build environments and restore normalcy in most of our clients in most of the industry verticals we are supporting,” Yadavalli said.

Addressing the Complexities of Accelerating Demands  

Implementing remote workspaces practically overnight speaks to the power of software-defined networks that can be designed, implemented and managed remotely from a software management platform. Every client — and many departments within a client — has different users, networks and applications. Getting them all synced and optimized is easier with a single-pane-of-glass interface.   

“Having a bird's eye view on the end-user experience and application performance is vital,” Yadavalli said.

Much of this was possible before COVID-19. People just had to shift into high gear.

“The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption,” Yadavalli said. “What used to happen in a two-year timeframe generally has happened in the last two or three months.” 

Wipro used analytics powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning to anticipate problems before problems negatively impacted remote workers’ productivity.

“We were able to predict most of the issues and address them proactively,” he said. That gave Wipro the maneuvering room to enable a rapid shift to remote work while limiting the impact on Wipro and its customers.

Value of Software-Defined Technologies

“Never has the world seen an exercise of this magnitude,” Yadavalli said of the rapid embrace of work-from-home technologies running in the cloud. “Almost the entire workforce around the globe is adapting to this new culture.”

That requires new thinking about creating robust, resilient remote-work solutions that are secure by design. In years to come, enterprises will have to think much more about computing that’s contextless, serverless and all in the cloud. The goal is enabling compatibility across multiple technologies that make it easy to collaborate and engage in flexible remote-working scenarios, Yadavalli said.

“Mobility, cloud and IoT technologies are going to dominate the future of the workspace,” he concluded. “And all these technologies are going to unlock many exciting opportunities since this will help connect with people and things.”

Tom Mangan is a contributing writer. He is a veteran B2B technology writer and editor, specializing in cloud computing and digital transformation. Contact him on his website or LinkedIn.

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