As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic evolved rapidly in recent months, millions of people around the world were asked to stay home to help control the spread of the virus. As a result, organizations and their IT teams have been working quickly to enable employees to work from home securely.
With more than 20 offices in 17 countries, Barracuda faced the same sudden transition to a fully remote workforce—including the IT team itself. To give you an inside look at how Barracuda’s IT team handled this major change, we spoke with Simon Yeo, SVP, Global Operations and Infrastructure. He shared insights on the Barracuda team adapted and overcame challenges.
Q&A with Simon Yeo, SVP, Global Operations and Infrastructure
What did you have to do quickly enable employees worldwide to work from home?
At Barracuda, we’ve traditionally been a company that encourages people to work from the office. So, while we’ve had various employees work remotely at times, we’ve never experienced the entire workforce working from home simultaneously.
Luckily, we had started distributing company-owned laptops to most of the workforce last year. These laptops allowed many of our employees to work remotely. As part of our security controls, we had proper EDR agents installed to give the IT team some control and visibility.
However, quite a few employees, particularly on the support and customer service teams, used desktops and were not equipped to easily work from home. We had to quickly roll out Chromebooks and additional take-home equipment such as USB hubs, monitors, and keyboards.
Something else we had working for us is that most of our applications are SaaS-based and we’ve been embracing tools like Zoom, MS Team, and MS OneDrive, which allows our employees to work from home more easily. We’ve also been enabling soft phones for employees with Wi-Fi at home.
What adjustments did your team have to make? Who goes into the datacenter? How often?
Most of my teams are 24×7, and they are well equipped to work from home. One possible exception was the helpdesk team where they were used to interacting with folks who come to their desk asking for help in person. They had to make a transition to remote support, working off our ticketing system, as well as our phone system, email, and Slack.
We currently have active projects in data center migration work: private to public, so that has required adjustments for our team as well. Data centers follow social distancing rules, so it becomes difficult to do physical work that usually requires two or more people, such as racking, stacking, and de-racking. So, everything takes longer in the data center now.See how Barracuda faced the sudden transition to a fully remote workforce—including the IT team itself. #RemoteWork #COVID19Click To Tweet
What lessons did you learn along the way? Is there anything you wish you knew going into it or anything you would have done differently?
Speaking to some of my peers at other companies, I think most of us would say the same thing: No one was entirely prepared for a change at this scale. At my previous company, we had designated work-from-home days where the entire company worked from home. Looking back, it would have been nice to be able to load/stress test our systems by having everyone in the company use the services from outside the company network at the same time.
Most of our internal services are SaaS-based already, which has been a big help as we worked through this transition. But we’d like to look to move the remaining over to some sort of cloud-based service going forward.
We also ran into some vendor supply chain issues in terms of laptops, monitors, Chromebooks, etc., so that’s another lesson learned. We need a better playbook or larger internal inventory to be better prepared in the future.
Interested in hearing more from Simon? Watch our on-demand webinar, “Barracuda IT SVP on Making the Sudden Shift to a Fully Remote Workforce,” for a Q&A and more in-depth insights.
Anne Campbell is the public relations manager for Barracuda. She's been with the organization since 2014, working on content and public relations for Barracuda MSP, the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda. She started her career in newspaper and magazine journalism, and she brings that editorial point of view the work she does, using it to help craft compelling stories.