Helping Belong set up the full remote solution with AWS EUC

CMD Solutions were able to implement a solution that provided additional secure remote working options and an improved user experience for a global workforce.

About Belong

  • Launched by Telstra in 2013 with the goal of offering great-value internet plans.
  • Belong later introduced mobile plans to get even more Australians connected.
  • Currently have around 1000 employees (400 in Australia, 600 support staff offshore)

Belong is Australia’s first carbon neutral mobile and internet provider. Belong believes that internet and mobile services should be straightforward and shouldn’t cost the earth.

They’re working to make our world a more inclusive place – by giving Australians the tools to reach across the planet at the touch of a button.

As a smaller, agile telecommunications provider within the Telstra fold, Belong is in a great position to test new ideas quickly and at scale.

The Challenge

When COVID-19 hit, Belong’s entire operation was impacted, but in particular, its offshore customer support teams in India.The company struggled to resource teams as employees were forced to isolate and could not access legacy, on-premise systems. This posed a threat to Belong’s business at a time when internet demand was at an all-time high.

Belong sought support from AWS cloud partner, CMD Solutions, to establish a remote work platform that enabled offshore teams to work securely and remotely from anywhere.

The remote solution needed to address six core business requirements:

  1. Speed: Getting remote contact centre staff back online as soon as possible
  2. Portability: Accessible from any desktop device
  3. User experience: Easy setup and navigation for employees working remotely, and improving on the existing system where agents had trouble accessing work flows, even in the office
  4. Customer experience: Empowering agents with access to the right information at any time in order to provide a great customer experience
  5. Scale: Ability to add more users and teams at speed
  6. Integration: Belong launched a concurrent pilot with Amazon Connect to replace its IVR services at the same time. It needed multiple workspaces to talk to each other.

The Solution

Belong engaged us to run a pilot with 40 users, during which time they were able to identify challenges.

The features of the pilot included:

  • Non-Production and Production Workspaces environments provisioned to follow a deployment lifecycle
  • Zero downtime feature Workspaces gold image updates and releases to provide a true always-on service to its customers
  • Security ingrained into the platform 
  • Infrastructure deployed and managed as code
  • Infrastructure deployment orchestration and automation via Terraform
  • Built-in autoscaling in Workspaces workloads to dynamically respond to customer’s demand.
  • Currently Belong uses more than 350 Workspaces for their call centre needs.
    • Restricted WorkSpaces access to trusted devices using client certificates on physical end-user devices

“The approach we used to create a remote workstation solution is a great example of how constraint drives creative thinking. The program was an outstanding example that showcased how our Belong customer, technology and security teams were able to swiftly take this idea from concept to market. The rapid prototyping, response to identified issues and successfully bringing this to scale from pilot to live for our workforce was made possible by leveraging a flexible partnership we have with CMD Solutions.”

Lambros Kallianiotis – CTO at Belong

Tech Services Deployed

  • Terraform
  • AWS WorkSpaces
  • Squid proxy (IP of CMD Solutions)
  • MultiOTP solution for MFA authentication
  • F5 BIG IP VPN client installed on WorkSpaces to connect to Telstra network
  • Video recording solution to record / monitor and archive all incoming call centre calls (IP of CMD Solutions)
  • AWS FSx & S3 to manage and store video files
  • ManageEngine (Zoho Corporation) to manage / patch / update etc existing WorkSpaces
  • AWS Lambda & Step Functions functions used to auto-provision / deprovision WorkSpaces, to create reports and run cost optimisation tasks for WorkSpaces as well
  • AWS Directory Services used to provision AD Connectors used by WorkSpaces

AWS Services Deployed

  • EC2
  • ASG
  • Systems Manager
  • ELB
  • S3
  • VPC
  • IAM
  • CloudTrail
  • GuardDuty
  • Config
  • Workspaces
  • Directory Services
  • FSx
  • KMS
  • Lambda
  • Step Functions
  • ACM
  • Cloudformation

Results

In eight weeks, we helped Belong set up the full remote solution, expanding from a pilot of 40 to over 350 agents. We were successful in introducing a new remote desktop solution for Belong’s customer service team during the business changes due to COVID-19, which has since expanded to more people within the company. The project was delivered within a two-month window; with business-as-usual operations maintained.

As a business, Belong achieved:

  • Total business continuity. Remote teams were ‘switched on’ next day, with zero impact
  • ‘Business as usual’ during subsequent lockdowns no transition required
  • A more secure SOE-standard workspace, with zero dependency on a office network
  • Better agent experience:
    • Agents can track and record everything on one screen no cutting, pasting or toggling between pages
    • Agents have full work flexibility Belong leaves it up to individual team members to decide how they want to work, and the technology allows them to do that.
    • Great return to work policies to support future hiring and retention. 
  • Improved customer experience
    • Fully resourced teams despite ongoing external disruptions
    • More information at agents’ fingertips to respond to customer inquiries
  • Seamless integration with Amazon Connect, ability to take calls within the remote workspace.
  • Ability to scale with ease Belong now has the capability to introduce remote access to all teams, including Australian-based teams in areas such as software engineering, graphic design, etc. 

The entire platform is supported by CMD Solutions’ next generation managed service offering, which maintains the EUC platform and supports end users day-to-day. As part of the Managed Service, CMD Solutions also provides ongoing continuous improvement, collaborating with the customer on a backlog of enhancements that ensure the Belong environment is kept in step with cloud best practice.

Belong is considering this becoming the desktop of choice for all of Belong, disconnecting the organisation from specific hardware or device management and enabling all employees to work seamlessly in a virtual environment.

“The Belong AWS EUC project showed the agility customers can achieve when working with experienced partners and AWS. In a short period of time in uncertain conditions, Belong partnering with CMD Solutions were able to implement a solution that provided additional secure remote working options and an improved user experience for a global workforce”

Adam Durbin – CEO at CMD