What a winter! The long range weather forecasters got it wrong, traffic in south eastern England ground to a halt at the first sight of snow – my usual 25 minute journey home turned into a 4 hour drive battling against the elements - but Microsoft was ready!
For several years now Microsoft has been developing secure systems which allow employees and contractors to work remotely, seamlessly and with minimal impact to productivity.
When I first joined Microsoft in 2001 we used Broadband (ADSL) or dial up to connect to the Corporate Network (CorpNet) using a VPN link. Things have developed since then and we now have different ways to connect or access services depending on what we need to be able to do.
So, what has this to do with the weather? Having this technology available has meant that on days when I’m physically unable to get to the office I can still work effectively – snow or no snow! I have Broadband at home and so I simply plug in my PC and collect my mail, get access to all the SharePoint sites for collaboration, get access to the tools that I need to do my job on a day to day basis, make or take telephone calls using Microsoft Communicator (the VoIP client on my PC for OCS Enterprise Voice) as if I were in the office and join audio or video conferences using Microsoft Live Meeting. The only things that I cannot do are anything which needs physical touch on site and enjoy the great coffee from the Spacebar in Building 3! In reflection, the main issue is really the coffee, as our infrastructure is monitored and can be configured by our remote Global Operations Centres in the US and India.
As part of the business continuity planning, Microsoft IT has installed sufficient capacity in North America for all full time employees to be able to work remotely and currently, in EMEA, we are working towards this target.
The snow may have stopped the traffic in the south this year but it certainly did not stop the Reading based Microsoft staff working from home while the office was closed – keeping the business of IT going.
John Owen IT Manager | Field IT United Kingdom