Modernizing remote access turned critical when COVID-19 hits
Having embraced the Palo Alto Networks platform approach to cybersecurity, Flex also worked with Armature to modernize remote access for the company’s global operations. Historically, Flex relied on a traditional hardware based VPN solution to connect users in its worldwide locations to regional data centers and out to cloud resources and SaaS applications. With growing network traffic pushing the capacity limits of the VPN appliances, Armature recommended the cloud-based Prisma™ Access secure access service edge (SASE) solution for more efficient direct access to the cloud and data centers, with virtually infinite scalability.
The plan had been to roll out Prisma Access after Flex closed its books for the end of the fiscal year at the end of March 2020. However, with news that the COVID-19 pandemic would likely force shutdowns around the world, the company shifted gears to expedite the rollout.
Gus Shahin, Flex’s chief information officer, explains, “When we saw the Chinese New Year extend into a lockdown, we felt the pressure. Most of our factories were considered essential and could remain open, but our indirect workforce would need to work from home. These are the people who handle critical aspects of the business, including procurement and logistics. Our financial staff were especially important as we were approaching the fiscal year close. We needed to make sure they had full, uninterrupted access to our financial systems, and it was clear our old VPN solution would not hold up.”
The enterprise IT team went into emergency mode. Flex engaged Armature for assistance once again and deployed teams of engineers around the world to deploy Prisma Access, pushing out clients to 20,000 end users and setting up service connections regionally. The team started on a Monday, and by the following Monday, they had Prisma Access turned up and everyone switched over from the old VPN with zero downtime.
Wetschnig recalls, “Our original timeline was to roll out Prisma Access in about six to eight weeks. We ended up doing it in seven days. When the lockdown was announced in China, and the people at our biggest service center needed to work from home, we were prepared.”