Data usage considerations for admins

The Wandera security cloud secures several million enterprise devices and mobile workers around the world, so remote working isn’t new to us or our customers. With 425 million worldwide sensors, our machine intelligence engine is able to process vast amounts of data to identify usage patterns and anomalous activity.

To support data-based decision making for IT admins, we’ve published the following data of real-world changes in collaboration tool usage. We will be updating this data to add further insights on a regular basis. Please contact us if you need specific data and we will try our best to provide it.

Collaboration tools usage trends

It’s no surprise to see how quickly the usage of collaboration tools has risen over the last few months. In this analysis, we included Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack and Google Hangouts. Usage of these remote working tools continues to rise. Last week (week of Mon. Apr. 27), the number of connections to remote working tools was up 2.5% over the week prior (week of Mon., Apr. 20) and up 187.4% over the first week of February.

We’re beginning to see the growth in connections stabilize as companies continue to adapt to remote working. However, as we look into data usage of tools such as MS Teams and Zoom, we can see that data usage continues to increase, as the way we use these tools changes to meet the requirements of remote working.

 

The impact on collaboration tools

We looked at our own analytics database to see how quickly the usage of collaboration tools has risen over the course of the year so far.

In this analysis, we included Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, and Google Hangouts.

The data shows that there is a significant increase from baseline usage in the first week of February. The number of connections increases, with some noticeable jumps in March, indicating an increase in the number of virtual meetings, an increase in the length of these meetings, and an increase in the number of meeting participants, as many businesses began requiring that their employees work from home.

Zoom

Zoom usage continues to grow, with both data usage and connections again seeing week-over-week increases. Data usage has started to trend downwards with a 14.8% decrease over the week prior but it still remains 2165.1% higher than the first week of February. The number of connections has also just started trending down with a 6.0% decrease over the prior week. Companies are embracing video calls as a substitute for face-to-face meetings, and entire teams are moving onto conference calls for their regular meetings.

We’ve seen significant increases in data usage for services such as Zoom, as remote working leads to changes in behavior, such as calls with larger numbers of participants, and more people using video rather than just audio when conference calling.

Slack

Slack usage saw its fourth consecutive week-over-week decrease (-3.3%) but connections are still slightly higher (4.3%) than the first week of February.

Microsoft Teams

The rate of growth for usage of Microsoft Teams has slowed down, but not come to a halt. The number of connections last week was up 2.4% over the week prior, while data usage was down 2.8%. The number of connections to Microsoft Teams was up 242.6% compared to the first week of February.

Across all of the remote working tools analyzed, weekend usage has also been rising significantly. For example, for the weekend of Saturday, March 14/Sunday, March 15, Microsoft Teams usage was as high as average weekday usage a month earlier.

Usage by country

While usage of remote working tools has grown in the US, other countries have seen greater increases in connections and data usage since the beginning of February. In April, Australia began to show an uptick in usage, after shifting to large-scale remote work a week behind the UK. This growth has not slowed — in only three weeks, Australia’s relative growth in the usage of remote working tools has surpassed both the UK and Germany.

Both Microsoft Teams and Zoom have experienced outages this month due to the increased load on the platforms.

Managing the data surge

The increased usage of these work tools is a good indicator your employees are actually working while they are at home so these trends should be taken as a positive sign. An increase in the use of personal services (such as video streaming) is more of a concern to IT admins, especially those that manage corporate-owned devices and are responsible for the bills. Look out for excessive use of streaming services that might be draining productivity while costing the business money. If you are experiencing issues with sudden bill shock and overages, it’s worth considering a solution that can help you manage this consumption.

Traditionally, businesses have enabled employees to work from home by utilizing VPN services. While these may have been acceptable in the past, the increased number of remote users due to the coronavirus can easily cause VPN appliances to struggle, resulting in individuals being unable to connect and work at all. If your employees are experiencing issues with bandwidth due to the increased load on VPNs, it’s worth checking in with your VPN concentrator. There might be services running through the VPN that don’t need that secure tunnel because they are already fully encrypted.

Alternatively, cloud-based services offer a suitable solution to the remote working conundrum as they are able to scale more effectively than VPNs. More modern connectivity solutions, which supersede VPN technology, can also offer a faster and simpler end-user experience, easing the shift to remote working for staff.

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