Artisan Canvas Header Background
Artisan Canvas
Your reply has been posted successfully!

Evolution of a Crisis Response—Part 2: Mobility

31 March 2020   |  

This is part 2 in a series discussing Artisan Partners’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read part 1 here.

Getting a global, 400+ member workforce out of the physical offices and home is one thing. Getting them on the network and ensuring it doesn’t crash and remains secure is another altogether. So how have we done it? As so many 21st century corporate stories do, it starts with technology.

Artisan associates can access our secure network in a couple different ways: via their Artisan-issued laptop or desktop computers using a virtual private network (VPN), or on their personal devices using a secure gateway (software). We’ve long had both technologies available, given the historically heavy levels of travel among our associates. However, we’ve never necessarily had everyone using one of these means to access the network simultaneously—and while we periodically conduct stress tests to ensure our systems’ viability, it’s a slightly different story when you’re actually staring down the face of a global crisis which relies on the systems’ functioning as they should and as you need them to.

So first, we tested these remote paths to the network to ensure they could handle a meaningfully bigger workload than we’d ever relied on them for in the past. Our first such test was on 12 March—fortuitous timing, as it turned out, given how quickly shelter-in-place orders like San Francisco’s sent many of us home on 16 March. Our tests were successful: Our systems behaved as we needed them to, which gave us needed confidence that we would be able to effectively maintain our business, whatever the crisis’s next evolution.

Despite our early successes, though, we wanted to not only build in ample redundancies for today, but also make sure we continue positioning the business for the world of tomorrow. Technologically, this meant continuing to amplify our network capacity. Our VPN relies on concentrators—networking devices built specifically for creating and managing VPN communication infrastructure—which exist in pairs spread strategically around the country. Any single pair of concentrators is designed to support the firm’s entire workload—we currently have three. And the secure gateway software requires licenses—of which we currently have an ample number. But as we think about our future, one lesson we’ve already learned is network infrastructure is best built well before its required. So we are currently working toward adding another pair of VPN concentrators in a new location, and we purchased additional software licenses—to increase our margin of safety in terms of network capacity, but also to build our network of tomorrow and beyond.  

This combination of longstanding planning and quick testing allowed us to go from relatively few employees working from remote locations at the beginning of the year to nearly 100% of our associates working remotely and experiencing no major issues in our network access. To put some recent numbers to it, on 26 March, we had some 350 laptops and 55 iPads and iPhones utilizing the VPN; and 60 secure gateway sessions—all without major issues.

In the next post, I’ll discuss what we’ve done to make sure everyone keeps talking—even when they’re not across the office from each other anymore.

  • Industry

Contact the Editorial Staff

Have a question or comment? We welcome your feedback. Comments will not be made public, but will be read by a member of our editorial staff.