COVID-19 changed views about what can be done remotely: RBL Bank


With the COVID-19 lockdown driving enterprises to move their workloads to Cloud-based infrastructure, private lender RBL Bank has realised that not only is seamless remote work possible but is also easier and desirable in many cases.

“The pandemic has changed our perspective on what can be done remotely and what can be done in office,” Sankarson Banerjee, Chief Information Officer at RBL Bank, told IANS in an interview.

The restrictions due to the COVID-19 came all of a sudden, forcing Banerjee to make quick decisions about which Cloud service provider can fulfill its remote working needs.

Realising limitations of its VPN and virtual desktop infrastructure set up, the bank briefly experimented with products from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Cloud arm of ecommerce behemoth Amazon, and Microsoft as it already had contracts with these two tech giants.

Without spending a lot of time in doing “technical deep-dive”, Banerjee finally decided to use Amazon WorkSpaces, even though he did not know of any other bank in India using the service.

“We experimented with AWS and Azure. We already had contracts with AWS which made it easier for us to transition. We received better support from the AWS sales team,” Banerjee noted.

Amazon WorkSpaces are available as a bundle of operating systems, compute resources, storage space, and software applications that allow a user to perform day-to-day tasks just like using a traditional desktop.

The offering helps organisations eliminate many administrative tasks associated with managing their desktop lifecycle including provisioning, deploying, maintaining, and recycling desktops.

With Amazon WorkSpaces, there is less hardware inventory to manage and no need for complex virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments that don’t scale.

“The decision to work with AWS is a combination of ease of use, comprehensive set of services and very good support from the company’s sales team,” Banerjee said.

Although RBL Bank’s decision to use Amazon WorkSpaces was specifically related to the challenges it faced due to COVID-19, it eventually plans to have about 1,000-1,200 Amazon WorkSpaces deployments staff.

Even after the pandemic is over, the bank plans to make use of applications that allow some of its staff to work remotely.

“We think some part of our business continuity plans should be permanent with an Amazon WorkSpaces kind of setup, in order to be ready for unforeseen scenarios like COVID-19,” Banerjee told IANS.

“We have realised that certain kinds of work can be done purely through Amazon WorkSpaces directly from contract resources sitting at contract locations, instead from our office premises,” he said, adding that almost 50 per cent of the organisation’s IT staff is on contract today.

Banerjee said that remote working for certain sections of the staff can help the organisation cut operational cost.

“Offering the right level of security can be difficult for smaller companies where our contract staff may work, and this is another area where we can use Amazon WorkSpaces to tackle difficulties that arise,” he emphasised.

“AWS has spent a lot of time making us feel confident about their public facing access. Our production workload runs through audits with AWS, including VAPT (Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing) audits, security checks.

“We run through a security checklist and make sure that AWS satisfies the criteria that we need for a security of a bank, and these are criteria that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and various organisations publish as a requirement for banks to have cloud providers,” Banerjee informed.


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