Simple, slick and easy-to-implement, Zoom was primed to fill the gap and urgent needs of emerging remote demands. The video conferencing tool has since exploded in popularity, leading the pack of IT tools adopted in the pandemic and becoming an integral part of businesses, schools and conferences.
Despite it’s fast rise to the top, hardly a day passes without at least one mention of Zoom in the news. The company has faced security issues, including having meetings hijacked in attacks called “Zoom-bombings.” More recently, Zoom made headlines because of a sustained outage that caused massive disruption for its users. On the morning of August 24th, 2020, students, teachers and professors around the world were unable to connect for their first day of remote classes, derailed by a Zoom outage that lasted nearly four hours. The incident caused serious headaches and raised serious red flags from users Zoom technology to function each day.
As demand for reliable IT tools shows no sign of slowing down, Zoom’s missteps have opened the door for competitors like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex to introduce users to their own feature sets – all further evidence of a continued remote software boom, enabled by cloud technologies.
The Bigger The Tech, The Harder The Crash
We live in a cloud age, where the expectations of continuity and security are justifiably high. In the minds of both businesses and consumers, data should never be lost and services should always be available. With each passing generation of cloud tools, the effort and cost to deliver consistent services must become faster and simpler while maintaining high levels of cybersecurity.
Zoom’s outage in August 2020 came at an inconveniently critical time. Many classes across the country started their first days of classes reliant on remote technology to deliver lessons and classroom study, and to re-establish their otherwise disconnected communities. Zoom reports that over 100,000 K-12 schools came onto the platform during the pandemic – making the August 24 outage debilitating for teachers and students across North America and Europe. Although the application was back up within hours, it proved that popularity does not equate to reliability and security.
Cloud-Based Remote Technology Is On the Rise
Within a matter of days of the big Zoom crash, Cisco Systems announced its competitive product, WebEx Classrooms, the latest in a continued lineup of remote classroom tools. This is a prime example of the boom in cloud-based classroom technology. The remote classroom boasts millions of students, and there is no tolerance for slow IT or slow software behaviors. In a realm where infrastructure needs to be crisp and the experience needs to be great, the legacy method of infrastructure deployment is not enough to meet the needs of this growing environment.
Zoom is just one of a handful of well-developed and longstanding tools designed to replicate the classroom environment and maximize the learning experience. Other emerging platforms provide basic features such as:
- Audio and video tools
- Virtual whiteboard
- Live chat
- Text editing tools
- Test monitoring tools (anti-cheating)
The continuum of features extends to things such as scheduling, reports and collaboration.
Competition for “Remote Tools” is Fierce – and Growing
The competition for video collaboration tool dominance is no secret. Microsoft Teams, Webex, Slack, Google Meet and many more each offer their own unique services and specialties. Each of these platforms is built with the capacity to deliver on demands, grow securely and amaze users through the promise of cloud technologies. Each business hopes their feature-set will be the winning combination for businesses and classrooms everywhere.
The cloud is a driving force and enabler of the remote tool boom. The expectations and demands of classrooms, modern business workplaces and financial transactions depend on the continued resiliency and platform performance that are available due to the cloud mission.
As we enter Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October, the security and compliance capabilities of these tools deserve a much deeper deep dive, which I will cover in my next article.