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Q&A with Earthlight about COVID-19

How has Covid-19 affected Earthlight? Earthlight is deemed an essential business, so we have continued our support of connections and services for clients. Invermay where our primary centre is located is fully locked down with essential access only. Staff that are working are doing so remotely.

How has working remote worked? Overall it is working well. Some paperwork had to be taken home and we also relocated telephone handsets.

Why did you not just divert the phone to mobile? We can do that too. In this case with a long period away from the office we took advantage of what our system can do and simply moved the desk phone to operate remotely. This meant no call diversion was needed and all functions such as call status followed. A call to the office is answered and can be easily transferred if needed.

What actions did Earthlight take ahead of lockdown? It was a bit of a rush, as it was for most businesses, as things moved quickly. We were already preparing to make VoIP handsets for our phone systems fully mobile so this work was prioritised to have Earthlight and our clients ready to disperse as Level 4 came into effect.
We ordered additional hardware to boost stock levels ahead of lockdown. Existing equipment stocks were checked to ensure we were ready for new installations and any other service requirements.
We already carry a number of spare parts elements for the datacentre environment. We also joined the hunt for PPE specifically hand sanitiser, gloves and masks. All staff wash hands as part of arrival protocol now at IDC. This will likely become standard practice.

Are new connections still happening? Yes, where there is a copper connection or fibre ONT already in place then we can order reconnection immediately. We have done several installations both leading up to and into Level 4.
If Chorus or Enable techs need to visit a site then the process is more involved. It has to be deemed essential in order to proceed. We are fully capable of handling all aspects of an order under Level 4 lockdown criteria as we do this already in normal times.

Does anyone need to be at the Datacentre? For a lot of the time no, we can operate largely remotely. However, there are backup sets to change over, and regular checking of the physical environment and infrastructure. We also check Earthlight and customer servers to see that all is well. There is a daily visit to check IDC.

Have there been any problems while under Level-4? So far so good. The issues that we have encountered are largely routine; a couple are noted on our IDC Events page, while others have been largely equipment related at customer premises. As Earthlight provides and directly manages a lot of equipment at sites, we have continued to be on top of any issues that arise. Remaining BAU (Business As Usual) requests have continued to come through, such as; Email support, Domain Name support and website updates.

Is there additional monitoring in place? We already have a lot of monitoring to support operations. These cover a wide range of areas. Data inputs include connectivity, temperature and humidity, data volume, alert messages, backup status, managed WiFi status and events, protected device events, power consumption... yeah quite a bit. We have a continuing programme to add more inputs to support operations. Some of this seeks to highlight spikes or unusual behaviour which could signal an event.

Have you seen unusual events? We see evidence of probes and unusual behaviour all the time. There has been an increase since Level-4 commenced. We advise keeping up to date for security fixes, having protection beyond just set-and-forget - monitor it or have it monitored, and always *always* be vigilant on emails.

Are things quieter during Level-4? Yes to some extent. With fewer staff, and some planned installations non-essential there is lower activity. BAU (Business As Usual) support continues as mentioned above. One area of increased activity has been the level of inquiry for hosting services. It makes sense - there is higher demand for hosting in-country with fast network access. Add to this perhaps the new normal of working remotely and security considerations, we see ways to help take clients forward and be best placed in the future.


Wayne Rodgers is Earthlight’s leading technical specialist. If you have any specific questions about any of our services or operations during Level 4 or beyond, then you can email Wayne directly here.