In the face of the lockdowns and disruption caused by Covid-19, many companies have faced a considerable challenge in connecting their staff to enable them to work from home, in a secure and reliable fashion. For Expo 2020 Dubai however, Cisco has managed to switch all 2,000 of its staff to remote working was accomplished in just two days, becoming another milestone achievement on the road to creating the most digitally-connected expo ever.
As the Official Premier Digital Network Partner for Expo 2020, Cisco has been working closely with Expo 2020 Dubai since April 2018, to deliver the digital infrastructure that will enable almost every aspect of the Dubai Expo. Cisco’s advanced Intent-Based Network technology forms the backbone of the digital infrastructure that connects every aspect of Expo, supporting 8,000 Wi-Fi access ports, IoT systems such as building management, irrigation and lighting control and physical security systems.
The partnership with Cisco has already achieved several technology milestones. The site is the largest deployment of Cisco Vision digital signage solution in the region, which has been achieved in record time, one of the cornerstones of the interactive digital experience that will visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai will enjoy.
The staff at Expo 2020 Dubai were already served by over 3,200 Cisco phones and Webex Teams collaboration suite, and an Office of the Future proof of concept project. When it came to the switch to remote working, Expo 2020 and Cisco once again raised the bar on technology deployment.
In mid-March, the government mandated that all public sector employees must work from home, which posed the challenge of how to connect over 2,000 members of staff, which would make it the largest deployment of Webex in the UAE. In just two days, the IT team were able to complete the initial roll out, and only 24 hours later, the Expo 2020 Dubai team was able to start using the newly enhanced system. In less than a week, the majority of users had been migrated to the new system.
Rolling out the Webex solution is only part of the story however. An important consideration was the need for secure connectivity, which Cisco was able to support with the rapid deployment of an upscaled VPN solution. The local Cisco CX team commissioned and tested a new VPN, increasing the secure capacity from 300 to 8,000 concurrent users. In under three days, the Expo 2020 Dubai team was able to being migration to the system, and in less than a week the majority of Expo 2020 staff were benefiting from the enhanced security provided by the VPN.
Cisco also provided enhanced support to get all of the Expo 2020 Dubai personnel up-to speed on Webex. Online tutorials and on ground technical support has helped to ensure that employees are able to get the most from the Webex solution and to be as efficient as possible.
Not only is Expo 2020 now the largest deployment of Webex in the UAE, but it has also clocked up some new milestone achievements for the Expo staff and partners. Since the solution went live, Expo 2020 has held over 28,000 virtual meetings on Webex, with 143,000 participants, and a total of a million minutes spent in Cisco Webex meetings. The team have completed over 19,000 video calls.
The work done for Expo 2020 in part drew on Cisco’s own experience of switching over to remote working. Although the company started preparations for remote working in February, it wasn’t until 16th March that Cisco decided to move all of its 140,000 employees and partners around the world, to working from home. A process that would normally take years, was completed in ten days, as Cisco’s IT team developed and executed a business continuity plan on the fly, to provide connectivity, collaboration, and business processes across the workforce. The process also including securing hundreds of thousands of devices to make them suitable for corporate use, and readying the company VPNs for the added demand.