After going mobile to help employees stay in touch, Eurostar’s IT team sets out on a mission to simplify the handling of digital information and applications.
Streamlining signing on
As Eurostar begins to rely on various apps, they turn to Okta for single sign-on across different applications. Now they can click once and sign in to everything.
Okta helps with provisioning by automating the process for 80 percent of Eurostar’s apps, creating cross-application experiences that are more secure, intuitive, and delightful.
Okta helps Eurostar raise the security bar by adding pre-built SAML connections to four apps, including Box and Salesforce.
Sunsetting legacy infrastructure
Okta eases Eurostar’s way to reducing IT costs by allowing them to sunset legacy AD FS hardware, integration maintenance, management, and service operations.
We measure our success of implementing Okta against the tagline, ‘delightfully easy.’ It’s rare that you implement a product and get not only no complaints, but hear it works incredibly well.Andy Simmonds, Head of IT Operations
Making employees’ work days as streamlined as riders’ journeys
Since Eurostar started in 1994, they’ve carried over 150 million rail passengers to London, Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, Disneyland® Paris, and more. Eurostar employs 1,800 people to ensure they get their passengers to their destinations on time and deliver the highest standards of service along the way.
Travellers are at the center of everything Eurostar does. Eurostar is gearing up to add new destinations and are continually looking to improve on the passenger experience. Eurostar is also conscious that competition could enter the market at any time. Eurostar needs outstanding, flexible tools to not only manage, but improve the operational safety and security on their trains and in their stations, these tools must not only be flexible and easy to use but also ensure compliance to strict governance policies.
IT plays a critical role in ensuring Eurostar gears themselves up to support their staff, who need to stay connected throughout their journeys. As far back as 2010, Eurostar went mobile by rolling out iPhones as corporate devices to all of their employees and ever since have been pushing the boundaries as to how much of their new and legacy applications can be pushed out to mobile devices.
Before using Okta, Eurostar had set up one Microsoft AD FS server for Salesforce (as well as an offsite backup server), which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. It was difficult to maintain and manage. Users couldn’t access Salesforce from outside the Call Center, which limited the benefit of having Salesforce in place at all. For high availability and for access outside the firewall, Eurostar would have had to deploy several more Microsoft AD FS servers and make firewall configuration changes, this not only created a management overhead and technical challenges but made for a complex architecture on what should be simple systems.
Eurostar also looked for a long time for a collaboration tool that met the requirements they had set themselves. They selected Box. “But one of the key directions from Eurostar’s management team was that we wanted to make things delightfully easy, and we quickly realized that by implementing Box without a single-sign on solution, we weren’t necessarily making things delightfully easy,” Simmonds says. Instead, they were faced with the prospect of asking people to remember, and type in new usernames and passwords. Employees complained about having to remember different passwords for different products or systems both internally hosted and external SaaS there was no possibility for password syncing or single sign-on.
A word-of-mouth recommendation
When Simmonds looked at the issue of making employees keep track of additional credentials, he determined to come up with a solution. IT wanted to simplify the process by finding a way to use single sign-on across different applications. They also wanted to find the best technologies possible to improve their passengers’ experiences and provide even better customer service on their trains.
When the team heard about Okta through Box, it piqued their interest. But before making a decision to go with Okta, they visited another customer as well. They spoke to the IT team at Gatwick Airport, who shared their experiences and how successful they were using Okta. Then things really took off.
With Okta, Eurostar improves employee’s work experiences
Members of the IT team spent a lot of time talking to their contacts at Okta and evaluating the platform. It seemed easy to implement and easy to deploy, and it also looked easy to maintain. Simmonds believed this simplicity was the key differentiator for committing to Okta. “As far as our users were concerned, it was invisible. It was something we could do to improve things for our employees,” he explained.
“We want people to get used to it and understand how easy it is.” Simmonds stated. Where previously employees would have gone out and purchased a product or SaaS through shadow IT, now he finds that people come to them. They don’t want to deal with a separate sign on. “One of the side benefits is that we are involved earlier and discover what’s going on out there and therefore this brings us closer to the business departments.”
By adopting mobile devices early on and partnering with Okta to get new, innovative apps onto those devices, IT has had increasing success in automating their processes and making them more efficient. They’ve improved the operational turnaround of the trains. By, using train-management apps to record faults on the trains in real-time, they ensure replacement parts are ready and waiting at the next engineering depot.
Security has also improved. Instead of lugging around safety documentation in trolley bags, employees can easily access the information on their iPads.
Most importantly, the culture has changed for employees to further improve productivity or customer experience. They are encouraged by the freedom to come up with new ideas. With mobile SSO at their fingertips, they can provide better service by calling taxis for their passengers before the train reaches the station. “We get a lot of benefits we wouldn’t have thought of just by being able to put Okta out there and say, ‘You’ve got this; work out how it can be used,’” Simmonds said.
“It’s all about being able to work on the move and speed things up, speed up business processes with mobile devices,” Simmonds explained.
Okta proves itself a strategic linchpin
When Okta paired up with Eurostar, they set up single-sign on. Employees now have a single set of credentials that gives them access to enterprise apps in the cloud, on premises, and on their iPhones and iPads.
IT administrators also use Universal Directory to customize, organize, and manage any set of user attributes. And it is all done with great flexibility and from the cloud. IT also uses Lifecycle Management to automate the process of creating user accounts—with seamless communication between Universal Directory and cloud applications.
Simmonds now has a way to enhance security by adding pre-built SAML connections to four of their most critical apps. “We in IT are making sure anything we buy in the future is SAML compliant so that it will link through to Okta and so that anything we release can work in the same way,” Simmonds elaborated. With Okta, he thinks you worry less. “In the past, there was always a decision about how to authenticate against a new product. That decision is no longer there because the assumption is it will work with Okta.”
Because Okta is always online, patched, and up to date, Eurostar can focus on improving its passenger services, adding new routes, and getting ready for pending competition. Okta is making life easier at Eurostar. “I think for us, Okta’s becoming more of a linchpin and strategic toolset, and we can see more potential than we have actually realized as of yet,” Simmonds ventured.
Fewer headaches, better results
Eurostar now has 100 percent of its users leveraging “any device, anywhere” access. Eurostar’s employees have become more productive. Having a dashboard to go to for their apps simplifies things. Eurostar has found that they’ve have been able to roll out applications much more easily than they ever had been able to.
For employees just joining Eurostar, they are able to get access to all of their applications on day one—and hit the ground running. Automated provisioning has led to a 50 percent improvement in the amount of time it takes.
Simmonds was pleased to find that he also realized significant cost avoidance savings by sunsetting the AD FS infrastructure.
Okta acts as a central component of how Eurostar’s staff does their work each day. “We measure our success of implementing Okta against the tagline, ‘delightfully easy’. For all future operational products we want them to be mobile and therefore be easy to use. We recognize that when faced with the public in transit or at a station our staff cannot afford to take the time to log in to different systems. The information has to be made available to them there and then so we measure success by user adoption and the number of applications made available” Simmonds commented. When Simmonds had employees complete an engagement survey, they asked, “Are things getting easier?” The answer was a resounding “Yes.” “You know, it’s rare that you put a product out into the marketplace or implement it into a business and get not only no complaints, but hear that it works incredibly well.”
What else is next? Now, Eurostar can clearly picture adding Adaptive Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) to further secure their apps and on-premise resources. “When we asked our business users what level of security they believed to be appropriate for the safety and security of the systems the response was that people felt that the level of security often associated with mobile banking applications. We feel that MFA will add that additional layer of security. It provides the balance between maintaining security whilst maintaining the ease of use for our employees” Simmonds believes MFA will add an extra layer of protection for improving security and preventing data breaches. They’re also not using deprovisioning, yet might in the future. “We deployed Okta for the reasons that we bought it, and we can see a lot more potential in there—the multi-factor authentication, provisioning of applications, and being able to release it to our user base so they can use it,” Simmonds said.
Two decades ago, Eurostar changed the way people traveled from the United Kingdom to Paris and Brussels. Today, they’ve created a generation of travelers who think nothing of hopping on the train after breakfast and relaxing in a Parisian bistro by lunchtime. Eurostar has links to over 100 destinations across Europe via Paris, Brussels, and Lille.