Work From Home has it’s challenges, isolation, noisy pets, children and no water cooler for impromptu meetings. Enter online collaboration services such as GoToMeeting, Zoom and others. It’s safe to say that these services are seeing unprecedented user and traffic volumes as we collectively “hunker down” for the next few weeks or longer. So today saw the beginning of some of the challenges I think users can expect. When trying, this morning, to join a 5-6 person call using a telecom bridge and screen sharing, I got the dreaded “sorry, your call cannot be completed at this time” message on my phone.
Now I don’t use some discount mobile service provider and neither does our company scrimp on the collaboration platform to which we subscribe. So why the problem….
Churches aren’t built for Easter Sunday attendance, apparently neither are telecom networks and collaboration platforms. So, I went investigating.
I’ve been in the technology industry for over 45-years, so I know a few people. I reached out to my technical contacts with one of the major carriers and a cable/internet service provider in my area, Louisville, Kentucky. Seems there are unprecedented levels of traffic, voice, data, streaming and so forth… not surprising. The bit of a surprise is that time of day sensitivity does come into play. Spikes are occurring early in the morning when WFH users are logging into their Virtual Private Networks, their email services in the Cloud, streaming audio – can’t get away with that at the office – and even Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and YouTube (how-to videos probably).
Unless those users employ data reduction and optimization technologies such as Riverbed’s SteelHead Mobile (Client Accelerator) to access corporate resources and/or software-as-a-service such as MS-365, then their home connection is inundated with the full Monty, so to speak. Tier3 Technologies’ experience shows that using such a tool reduces data on the home-based internet and optimization of the various applications can improve performance by a factor of 10-20 times. By cutting down on how much data is being moved over the “pipe” makes room for other applications… wait till the school from home and gaming from home cranks up on the same bandwidth when the teenagers get up.
What about the time of day comment earlier? Seems that mid-morning may not be the best time to host/conduct a meeting… neither is right after lunchtime. Think of it this way. When you were at the office, what time was most difficult for scheduling a conference room? If you’re like most companies it was first thing in the morning, right before lunch around 10-11 a.m. and right after lunchtime. Looks like we are creatures of habit and some of the same rules apply.
In closing, be smart, use some of the same practices from home when attempting to hold “virtual meetings”. When meeting, no streaming audio/video entertainment, lock up the pets (and children in some cases) set tight agendas and stick to them. Get tools to optimize bandwidth like Riverbed Client Accelerator if your company has them in place. Most of all, make sure you keep in touch with friends and go-workers using instant messaging if necessary and email and yes, the old standby, the telephone if the call completes.
Be well and practice smart, safe collaboration in these “interesting” times.
Michael Paynter, CTO – Tier3 Technologies