TCS has been a key partner to Stolt-Nielsen Limited, a global shipping company, for the last 13 years providing support to its applications and infrastructure services. The shipping major provides transportation and storage for liquids, especially, specialty and bulk liquid chemicals. During the last week of January 2020, its global supply chain was on the verge of being hit badly when several countries started announcing lockdown to arrest the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
Roadblock for Business, Operations, and IT Users
Stolt-Nielsen plays a crucial role in managing the storage and transportation supply chain for customers globally. During the COVID-19 crisis, its role became more vital as it had to ensure uninterrupted, 24X7 supply of essential items such as edible oils, clean petroleum products, and various types of industrial acid to its customers worldwide. The shipping major’s business, operations and IT users were at the helm of the supply chain and the first ones to be impacted because of the lockdown. Due to restrictions on traveling and working from office, it became difficult for them to access systems and continue day-to-day business operations such as order acceptance and tracking, invoice generation, payments processing, inventory management, itinerary and voyage tracking and so on.
The TCS team knew that the delivery of essential items to Stolt-Nielsen’s customers was critical. Any disruption in this would impact the businesses of these customers and would jolt Stolt’s reputation and business globally. As IT is the backbone of Stolt’s business operations, the only solution was to step up IT infrastructure to enable ‘work from home’ facility for over 2,500 business and operation users including vendors and contractors. However, the enterprise was constrained in terms of the limited capacity of its existing IT infrastructure and the time required to scale up the Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment that housed most business applications.
Long-standing Partnership Strengthens the Supply Chain
The TCS team had started leveraging the Citrix farm (a group of servers) only recently -- since December 2019 -- with all the Infrastructure hosted on the TCS enterprise cloud platform (ECP). It was primarily used for vendors and contractors and had the capacity to handle 120 concurrent remote users worldwide. Amassing its contextual knowledge of 13 years as Stolt-Nielsen’s IT growth and transformation partner, the TCS team initiated VDI expansion activities in the last week of January 2020 as soon as the client informed them of the COVID-19 outbreak in China.
During the first phase of the infrastructure ramp-up, the TCS ECP team upskilled itself on Citrix farm and worked with the pertinent Stolt teams over the weekend to accommodate identified business users for remote working. As the COVID situation started worsening, the team increased the capacity almost four times to accommodate 600 concurrent users working on VDI to access business-critical applications. Robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms were also built into the system to ensure that the overall solution approach could be re-calibrated if there were any threshold breaches in terms of the number of users. Best-in-class hardware hosted on the TCS enterprise cloud provided consistent system performance.
The second phase of infrastructure expansion took place in March 2020 when lockdown was enforced by several countries across the globe. Since Stolt has operations across multiple geographies, its users were connected 24X7 to the VDI network. The TCS and Stolt teams together ensured that all 2,500 users were able to login and work as per their time zones without any disruption.
Stolt had succeeded in keeping its global supply chain up and running in a crisis. Their leadership team, including the Global Service Delivery Manager, the CIO, the President, and the CEO of the shipping organization acknowledged the achievement. Peter Koenders, Chief Information Officer, Stolt-Nielsen Limited, said TCS’ support was “highly appreciated in these difficult times”.
He further said, “Our health and safety comes obviously first, but a crucial element during the whole Corona period is to make sure that our people can continue working and can continue our business in order to keep the company alive. Our systems and our ability to work from anywhere, anytime has proven to be of tremendous value. You all went over and beyond to support our systems and assist our people to be able to achieve that. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all very very much for all the extra efforts that have been put in. Exceptionally well done.”