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Hidden Hero: Marek Wydra implements VPN solution during Coronavirus outbreak.

Due to the current Coronavirus outbreak, many of us are now working from home. For a global company such as DB Schenker, it is crucial to have the correct technology and infrastructure in place to allow us to do this. For Global Infrastructure Services (GIS), this was important as early as January – when Coronavirus first began to affect our colleagues in China.

One of the challenges to overcome was securing a reliable VPN service which could be used by a large number of colleagues all over the world. One colleague in particular - Marek Wydra from our Schenker Technology Center in Warsaw - was instrumental in making this happen. We had a short conversation with Marek to find out how he did it.

Zscaler is a cloud-based information security company offering a number of products to companies all over the world. DB Schenker uses their VPN solution to allow colleagues to access internal applications while working from home.

Corporate Communications (CC): Hi Marek, how long have you been working at Schenker and what is your role here?

Marek Wydra: I joined Schenker in 2002 and was initially responsible for the IT insourcing strategy for Schenker Poland. In 2012, I started my global roles. The first was in the Security Operation Center and I currently work as an Infrastructure Security Architect in the GIS Architecture Team.

CC: Can you please summarize your recent work in setting up the Zscaler VPN?

Marek: We had a meeting in Essen with zScaler on January 30 and received the information that Zscaler plans to support their customers in days to come.  We were already informed about the outbreak of Coronavirus and the whole of GIS started preparing to secure operations. Our colleagues in China would soon return from the public holiday and many needed to work from home.

With the traditional VPN, we knew we would reach a certain limit, and this would be hard to overcome. Therefore, my manager Steffan asked me to deep dive into ZPA, the zScaler cloud-delivered solution. In just 5 days we had the first draft of the solution design and over the weekend from February 8-9 I managed to deploy the production setup – which was the hardest task.

Over the course of the action, I had a lot of help from team members to adjust the client software to be delivered to the workstations. Even though it was the weekend, colleagues from APAC – both mainland China and the RHO in Singapore – helped to start the additional connectors so we could meet the growing demand for remote access.

In the first days, the number of users exceeded the number of users for the traditional VPN. Of course, not everything worked perfectly, but the standard application worked, and it was possible to offload the remaining parts of the infrastructure. At this point, our Network Team joined the effort to rework the setup due to the fast-growing demand. That was really needed!

CC: Very impressive! What were the results of the project and how has this helped Schenker?

Marek: The project proved that our cloud-first approach is the right strategy. We managed to successfully provide a solution for more than 30,000 users per day working from home. The solution is able to cope with crisis situations where internet connectivity might be limited, and we can use the branch lines normally used by users in the office.

CC: Do you have any projects planned in the near future to further assist colleagues working remotely?

Marek: In my role, I contribute to multiple GIS initiatives. At the moment, I am primarily focused on zScaler Internet Access adjustments and mail platform security.

CC: How has Coronavirus affected you personally?

Marek: The current situation is far from normal, even while living in a medium-sized city like Gdynia. First, we must realize how serious the situation is and that only with imposed restrictions can we improve the situation. I work from home in order to reduce the risk for the Ocean Freight office where I normally work. My strategy is to keep myself busy at home, so I don’t miss going out too much. There are lots of things which can’t be done at the moment, so these have been delayed for later.

A big thank you to Marek – and for all of our GIS and IT colleagues – who have made it possible for us to work from home during this time. Your diligent efforts not only allow Schenker to continue operations, but they also help to protect us and the communities we operate in. Thank you!

Hidden Heroes is a series of articles here on ONE, featuring colleagues from around the world with a special story to share. Do you have a hidden talent, extraordinary achievement or unique story from your time at DB Schenker? We are waiting to hear from you!