back to article Zoom goes boom, Teams tears at seams: Technology stumbles at the first hurdle for this homeworking malarkey

They knew it was coming and have been desperately building capacity – yet the flood of workers to video conferencing software has proved too much for companies like Zoom and Microsoft. This morning, with millions of Americans joining the global trend toward social distancing and working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic …

  1. G Mac

    And please mute yourself...

    before going to the bathroom.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: And please mute yourself...

      Are you Frank Drebin?

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: And please mute yourself...

      A friend called in this afternoon and reported his Boss (high-tech dimwit that he is) had pr0n playing in the background ... with the second monitor in clear view. Why did he call? He wanted to know how to get a screen capture of the proceedings, preferably with video and audio.

      Which reminds me ... Do all your corporate lawyers understand that everything discussed using such software can easily be captured for future reference? And after letting them know this, did they OK the concept of remote working for the masses?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Centralized systems can't sustain the load...

    ... what a surprise....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Centralized systems can't sustain the load...

      But it's Cloud! It should just work!

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Centralized systems can't sustain the load...

        unless it is a sunny day...

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    I was asked to help a neighbor get setup to work from home this weekend to handle the corporate billing and payments, she had a load of questions they wanted answered so I sat down at her laptop and logged in ... into Windows Vista Business Edition.

    We discussed it and she went off to buy a new laptop.

    1. Flywheel

      So now I'm wondering if there'll be a rush on laptops!

      1. GameOver

        Yep. Our IT contractor was installing VPN for our remote workers yesterday and he remarked that he couldn't buy any laptops for his customers as there was a chronic shortage.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "So now I'm wondering if there'll be a rush on laptops!"

        Already happened. There's sweet FA in the channel now. Everyone is hoping that China will re-start exporting Real Soon Now.

  4. MHZawadi

    Working from home

    Where I work we have a work at home policy that allows all staff to work from home 1 day a week, we use Google meet and slack for our Comms. Of all the meeting systems I have been subjected too, Google is by far the most reliable and quickest to get running.

  5. DasWezel

    And when calling from home

    Please turn the damned TV/radio/etc off.

  6. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The dogs in the background

    Are usually the best participants in the meeting. Direct about what they want, no bones about it.

    1. DasWezel
      Thumb Up

      Re: The dogs in the background

      Couldn't agree more.

      Provided the TV is off, of course.

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    Going backwards by going forwards

    You'd think that videoconferencing or other collaborative activities would only be limited by the capacity of the network. But there's no way to easily monetize point to point communication so we've gone from the solutions we used literally 20 years ago to a centralized model. That model works OK until the server(s) buckle.

    Just about everything requires interacting with a remote site these days, if nothing else to verify that your license is up to date. This introduces a significant lag in startup times and even while trying to use that software. Truly a case of progress going wonder that we find that more and more of the machinery of our lives is just plain not working properly.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Going backwards by going forwards

      "the solutions we used literally 20 years ago"

      Try 35 years ago. N.E.T. was selling video conferencing, collaborative stuff like whiteboarding, and etc. capability in the mid 1980s. They worked quite well ... better over leased T1 (T3) lines, to be sure, but they worked just fine over The Internet, assuming a large enough pipe to "the backbone" (whatever THAT was). I don't ever remember having any issues[0] with it in the several years that I used it ...

      How far we've come in a third of a century. Still like your Cloud?

      [0] To be fair, the whiteboard was kinda flaky, but that was hardware issues (pilot build), not software or networking.

    2. MatthewSt

      Re: Going backwards by going forwards

      Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for decentralised and wish Skype-of-olde was still a thing, but the problem with decentralised is when the call is more than 1:1. Who is then responsible for the extra bandwidth? Do you want to send your HD video and audio streams to all four of the other participants in the meeting (meaning your 2mbps upload is now 8mbps upload), The way Skype used to do it is that whoever was first in the call would shoulder the burden, so participants #2, #3 and #4 would only need to send their video to #1, and then #1 would re-broadcast it to the rest. That detail was never publicised, but meant you had to be careful who "started" the call

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Going backwards by going forwards

        "Who is then responsible for the extra bandwidth?"

        We're discussing working from home. Keyword "working". Bounce it all off the corporate servers, that's part of what they are there for.

        Note that this kind of thing requires rather small values of "server", at least in most reasonable corporate cases.

        1. MatthewSt

          Re: Going backwards by going forwards

          That's exactly what we are doing, but we've outsourced the running of the "corporate servers" to Google, Microsoft, Zoom, Slack etc

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Going backwards by going forwards

            "we've outsourced the running of the "corporate servers""

            And thus the problems referenced in TOA. My clients had no such problems.

            1. MatthewSt

              Re: Going backwards by going forwards

              Definitely. Wasn't saying that it wasn't a problem, it just moves the point of failure. If you're all working from home and your corporate internet dies then you're in a similar situation. As with everything, it depends on what your risk profile is.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Hangouts seems to have held up the best

    They'll be why they're killing it at the end of the year.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Hangouts seems to have held up the best

      PHB: Look how stable it is!! All the other plaforms are falling over!

      PFY: Yeah our 6 users sure are getting great service.

  9. Robert Grant

    Excellent use of misleading y-axes

    The low bit on Teams is the highest point on Zoom, for example.

  10. baguar
    Thumb Up

    I noticed that Slack spun up over 300 new media endpoints (call servers) in various EC2 regions, just during this last weekend. One of the advantages of having a cloud infrastructure stack I guess. Capacity seems to be up 300% since December.

    Anyone know what that would do to your AWS bill?

    1. jake Silver badge

      During the meanwhile ...

      The systems I setup, being self-hosted by the companies that are using it, had no need to wait for added capacity. It worked just fine. Imagine that.

  11. sanmigueelbeer

    And please wear pants.

    1. jonathan keith

      Important question: UK or US pants?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Just to be on the safe side - both.

        1. jake Silver badge

          How about neither?

          Some of us prefer the kilt.

    2. acomav

      Woah, hold on there! Let's not panic.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Yeah some lifestyle changes are going too far! We don't use cameras for conference calls. Saves bandwidth.

        Yeeeeah [he said, shiftily]. Bandwidth. Definitely to save bandwidth. Absolutely not anything else ------->

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Yeah but who has their camera under their desk? That's not a flattering angle even when wearing pants (left- or right-pondian variety).

      Well. Most of the time. There will of course be certain... ahem... extrovert exceptions.

    4. Captain Scarlet

      I don't want to on a call with someone wearing just pants, put some bloody trousers/shorts/joggers/skirt/kilt on ffs

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        So topless is ok, then. Good to know. Good to know.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Fewer meetings = more work done

    People are acting like this is a bad thing. If I can get to the data server remotely I'll be fine. Office meetings were always the least productive part of my day.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Fewer meetings = more work done

      "Office meetings are always the least productive part of everybody's day."


    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Fewer meetings = more work done

      You just have to remember that when all is said and done there will be far more said than there is done!

    3. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Fewer meetings = more work done

      For me more meetings = less people watching crap on YouTube on the Corp network, so its quicker from home.

  13. Gaunty

    Team's and Skype for Business

    The company I work for uses both TEAMs and S4B. They have worked flawlessly since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the management to instruct us all to work from home. I speak with customers, who also use TEAMS or S4B and we have not experienced any of the outages being reported on.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Team's and Skype for Business

      Teams has worked ... well, as well as it usually does (decent audio, reasonable video and screen sharing, abominable user interface) for me the past few days.

      (May I just say I'm fascinated that you managed to write "Teams" in three different nonstandard ways there, without ever getting it right. "TEAMs" might be my favorite, as it's arguably the most puzzling and annoying.)

  14. Aussie Doc

    <something deep and meaningful here>

    One positive (sorry, not really the right word but you know what I mean) about the current situation is how much people are realising that all along, meetings can be handled via email or vdo conf (when working) and just how much work can be successfully done from home after all, for the right type of business.

    When this blows over (economic devastation notwithstanding) it could be fun having the boss convince you that you need to physically come in.

    Meanwhile, stay safe everybody with your own level of what 'safe' means.

    Always wear at least a coat during your calls ----->

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