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Web Conferencing Vendors Offer Free Access During COVID-19 Social Distancing Measures
Web conferencing vendors lined up to offer their software services for free on Monday as workers around the globe started their weeks working from home, complying with social distancing recommendations in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft says the premium tier of Microsoft Teams will be available free to all users, allowing them to schedule video calls and conferences. Team limits will also be removed. The free offering comes via a free six-month trial.
Google is also offering its Hangouts Meet software for free to all G Suite customers through to July 1. Users will be able to host meetings with limits of 250 participants as well as livestream to up to 100,000 viewers under a single domain account. All meetings can be recorded to Google Drive. Normally this tier of service would add US$13 per month per user onto the base level subscription.
Zoom lifted the time limits on its video calls for free version users in China and is doing the same by request for education sector users in Japan, Italy, and the US.
LogMeIn is offering critical front-line service providers with free use of many of its products for three months. It’s releasing Emergency Remote Work Kits that include solutions for remote meetings, video conferencing, webinars, and virtual events. It’s also supporting IT support and management of remote employee devices and apps as well as remote access to devices in multiple locations.
Zoho is also offering its Remotely software package, which includes a range of apps that assist with online collaboration and productivity, for free until July 1. It includes Zoho Meeting for web conferencing purposes.
Source: Web Conferencing Data Quadrant at SoftwareReviews Published Feb. 20, 2020.
With a huge portion of the population in many countries now pushed into remote working scenarios due to the coronavirus pandemic, many companies will see their business continuity plans tested.
Most companies will already have some web conferencing or collaboration tools in place to support those who may work at home periodically. But with entire organizations taking to the home office, those systems may be pushed past their limits. Already on Monday, Microsoft Teams outages were being reported in Europe and the US as millions logged in to collaborate.
IT teams and task forces responsible for business continuity processes should monitor whether their online working solutions are doing the job effectively or not. If your team discovers performance issues or runs up against unexpected limitations on your service tier, then take stock of the temporary free options available from vendors. Also check with your own vendor to see if you can upgrade your staff to a better level of service for no cost.
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On March 11, 2021, Verizon provided updates to BlueJeans’ product vision and direction for FY2021. BlueJeans experienced dramatic adoption in 2020, particularly for webinars and events, and seeks to offer advanced breakout room features in the future.
On February 24-25, 2021, Zoho held its annual ZohoDay – a conference aimed at communicating the state of the business and product roadmaps. The event coincided with Zoho’s 25th year as a company, testament to Zoho’s long-term business approach: grow organically, have zero debt, zero external investments, remain cashflow positive, and plow cashflow back into the business and customers.
On October 29, 2020, Verizon briefed on BlueJeans’ product vision and direction. This note outlines the new and upcoming features that users can expect from BlueJeans for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. However, with the table stakes margin for features rapidly increasing in the web conferencing marketspace, BlueJeans’ new features are less a way to stand out from the crowd and more as a necessity to keep up.
On November 5, 2020, Cisco briefed on its upcoming virtual legislative session tool Webex Legislate. With a range of features that governing bodies around the globe have desired throughout the extent of the pandemic, Webex Legislate surely becomes the must-have tool for conducting virtual and hybrid sessions – especially if an agency is already leveraging Cisco products.
On September 1, 2020, Info-Tech briefed with Cisco about current and upcoming features of its Unified Webex app for September. Significant changes include the introduction of Cisco Webex Classrooms and the Webex Control Hub, with notable updates also coming to Webex for Education, Webex Meetings, and Webex Teams.
On September 4, 2020, Info-Tech briefed with Zoho about current and upcoming features of Zoho Workplace, a global enterprise collaboration platform. Organizations, especially SMBs, that want to look outside of Microsoft’s and Google’s office productivity suite duopoly should consider shortlisting Zoho Workplace as a viable option.
Enterprise Connect’s virtual conference and expo for 2020 featured a wide variety of sessions on communications and collaboration for the enterprise. In this fourteenth note of fourteen, I report on Recon Research’s latest study on how COVID-19 has cemented web conferencing as the future of the workplace.
Zoho Workplace – a global enterprise collaboration platform – has reported that it is now supporting 15 million users and is experiencing a surge in usage for its business applications. However, compared to Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite, Zoho still has a long way to go in this marketspace.
Google has announced several updates to its G-Suite offering, which aims to heavily integrate and better secure its teamwork applications. The move represents a clear attempt by Google to directly compete with Microsoft’s office productivity suite, with several of the G-Suite updates mirroring the logical architecture of Office 365.