Ingram Micro, as a leading distributor of IT equipment and software, in collaboration with vendors, was among the first to join the Serbian Government’s “Digital Solidarity” project (www.digitalnasolidarnost.gov.rs/#digitalnasolidarity) and make available to citizens free training, tools and software for learning and working from home
After the Covid-19 pandemic abates, many companies will switch to permanent work from home, which requires the development of new tools, services and security solutions to protect against cyber threats. Discussing this with CorD are Igor Urošević, Head of the Ingram Micro Technical Department, and one new member of the Ingram Micro team, famous Serbian volleyball player Ivana Đerisilo.
The Government of Serbia quickly found its footing under the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic and launched the Digital Solidarity project. For whom is it intended and what motivated you to join immediately?
Igor Urošević: The Digital Solidarity project is intended for all legal entities and private citizens, in order for them to have, in one place, consolidated and systematic insight into all solutions, applications, tools and virtual training, which can be used instantly at no cost, whether they relate to vendor solutions or the in-house solutions of domestic companies.
The overarching goal was certainly to offer solutions that facilitate and ease work from home, but at some point, the entire idea diverged in the direction of enabling online education in various fields that are not exclusively linked to working out of an office in the traditional sense.
Although the business model of Ingram Micro, as a distributor, is linked solely through a network of partners, i.e. our customers are not end-users, this idea immediately caught our attention because, thanks to the number of contracts with reputable IT equipment manufacturers that are in our portfolio, we can offer a wide range of services, solutions and training, and thereby contribute to everyone overcoming this crisis period as easily as possible.
We have shown ourselves to be able to adapt quickly and relatively easily to the newly emerged situation and to organise ourselves to work from home, which even has many good sides. Is this our future?
Judging by numerous analyses, the Covid-19 pandemic will certainly change many habits, and even the way of life in the future, not only in IT. It is thankless to predict the extent to which this will be expressed, but it should be expected that many companies will consider work from home increasingly seriously.
Working from home is nothing new in the IT world, with virtual teams an everyday occurrence in IT, so from that point, it is irrelevant whether an employee is sitting at home or in an office. The challenges of working from home will be much greater in some other industries. The problems that will arise, such as the separation of private and working life, will be more at the sociological and organisational level than at the technical level.
Zoom, one of the leading manufacturers of software for collaborations, generated a leap in profits during the pandemic that can be measured in the billions of dollars
How has the situation we’ve found ourselves in as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic pointed to the need to develop some new software, services and tools for working from home? Is that a “homework assignment” for IT companies?
Igor Urošević: If we’re talking about transmitting video signals and audio in real-time, as well as enabling virtual meetings of multiple participants, many tools enabling work from home already exist in their basic form. The question is the extent to which they are already represented on the market and how much the pandemic will add to the demand for these tools. On the other hand, one should expect technical upgrades of this kind of software, primarily from the perspective of satisfying the more complex requirements of users that are now available or through various 3rd party solutions, appropriate plug-ins or integrations.
Particular attention should be paid to security solutions and protection against cyber threats, as the risks are much greater when working from home than in the corporate environment, where security solutions are implemented – advanced firewalls (NGFW – Next Generation Firewall), protection against Zero-Day attacks (Sandboxing), SIEM etc. All these solutions aren’t available if the user is working from home. Endpoint protection at workstations and connectivity via VPN to a corporate environment are practically the only level of protection for a remote user.
If we put all of this into context with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) equipment, which includes personal mobile phones, computers and tablets that are not protected by company security software and policies and that access company resources, it is clear how many risks there are in this area and that we should expect the development of, and increased demand for, security solutions in this area, with an increasing trend of work from home.
Did your vendors also respond immediately to the invitation to join the Digital Solidarity project?
Ivana Đerisilo: Ingram Micro and its vendors have a tradition of joint operations, with trust that has been built over the years. We also share that which is most with them – the successful realisation of projects, as well as distribution itself, so there was no doubt that they would respond to our invitation to join the project. Everyone accepted in the first conversation.
You entered the project with your free online training. What kind of interest in free training have you seen? Which citizens were the most interesting? Tell us more about this…
Ivana Đerisilo: At the very start of the pandemic, our training centre team had already organized VILT training sessions that don’t differ from classic classroom training, because they have the possibility, through audio/video calls, for interactive communication with the instructor and other participants. Everyone was able to ask the instructor anything they were interested in, in real-time. A large number of citizens signed up for all three training courses that we offered: Veeam -VMCE v 9, Kaspersky – Endpoint Security and Check Point – CCES. Despite the infrastructure limitations, we tried to go out of our way to reach all interested participants and I can say with pride that we received positive feedback from our students after only a few days. They were extremely satisfied with the training because they were able to obtain all the certificates that were essential to them, despite the state of emergency.
As a former volleyball player of the Serbia national team and medal winner for our country, you recently took up employment at Ingram Micro, during the pandemic. Is the transition from the sporting terrain to the business terrain a big change?
Ivana Đerisilo: At the beginning of your career, you don’t know where life will take you; you do not know whether you will be successful or not, so just a few months after winning a bronze medal in Japan I defended my undergraduate thesis and became a graduate engineer. After winning the medal, numerous offers arrived for me to play from all over the world, and I knew then that I would have to postpone my diploma for a while and dedicate myself to volleyball. But nonetheless, precisely at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, I joined the great team at Ingram Micro.
The business terrain is actually very similar to going out on the court. I view my daily work as training, while my matches are the training sessions with our users, and I compare sporting victory with customer satisfaction because there’s nothing better than when someone advances because of your work. That’s the greatest victory for me.
The most important thing in sport is to have a good team, which – as you know – in volleyball means 12 players and an expert staff, who must all breath as one! I’m so fortunate that we all breathe as one at Ingram Micro, and that we’re led by a great management team.
If you would like to familiarise yourself with the portfolio of training and services that Ingram Micro offers within the scope of the Digital Solidarity project, please visit the website: https://rs.ingrammicro.eu/ or contact directly: +381 (11) 20 42 070,