As the impact of the coronavirus outbreak continues to rattle businesses and communities, the tech industry is stepping up to help in many ways.
As more and more businesses encourage or outright require their teams to work from home, reliance on remote worker technologies is skyrocketing. The infrastructure of the internet and various Cloud-hosted services will be tested like never before over the next few months. I have heard some reports of local internet nodes getting overwhelmed by the dramatic increase in traffic from residential connections being used for VPN and all manner of online collaboration. Locally, Comcast will certainly feel this stress and is hopefully positioned to keep the local Internet connections working without interruption.
Several large technology companies are also stepping up to offer their software at no cost for a period of time. How long varies, but in all cases is designed to help organizations get through the unknown times we find ourselves in.
Microsoft is offering its Teams collaboration platform free for six months. Teams is a comprehensive collaboration suite that offers chat and online meetings complete with audio and video capabilities. Teams can also be used as a business phone system, file sharing platform and more.
Google is offering its Google Hangouts online meeting platform for existing Google G Suite business and educations customers. Google Hangouts offers some of the same features as Microsoft Teams making it a logical choice for existing Google customers.
Zoom, one of the hottest online meeting platforms is offering a free version of its service as well. As financial markets have tumbled, Zoom stock has been one of the bright spots, rising as much as 20% in response to the number of companies moving their workforces to remote only status for the foreseeable future.
Cisco WebEx is also offering a free version, complete with toll-free call-in options for 90 days. LogMeIn is also offering what it is calling “Emergency Remote Work Kits” free for three months to help companies get through potential interruptions to normal office-based operations.
In all cases, the companies are offering premium features that are normally paid add-on subscriptions to the core products. These allow for increased numbers of participants, specifically for online meetings along with features like the ability to record and share the sessions.
Another tech firm stepping up is TechSmith. It is offering its SnagIt and Video Review products for free to companies and educational institutions through June 30. SnagIt and Video Review allow you to create interactive step-by-step training and educational material as well as create recorded presentations for distribution to audiences that would have been face to face.
I expect more tech companies to join these in stepping up to provide tools to help our economy weather the unprecedented interruptions we are experiencing. We all hope things will return to normal as quickly as possible, but also expect there may become some new normals as a result of what we all experience and learn in navigating the next 30 to 60 days. Stay safe and make the best choices you can to help protect yourself, your employees, your customers and those most at risk.
Wishing you all good health.
MJ Shoer is an IT consultant based in Portsmouth. He provides coaching and content development, partner program and technology stack management, Office 365 optimization, realistic cybersecurity and virtual CTO services to his clients. He maintains a blog about IT at www.mjshoer.com/blog and may be reached at [email protected]