Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Telework: the victory of cloud communication software

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Weekends in Paris in the jazz clubs of Saint-Germain-des-Près are far for Stewart Butterfield. Since a meal at the snack bar on the eve of the publication of his company’s financial results Slack, the boss did not leave the house either. But he has more reason than others to rejoice.

As expected at the start of the health crisis in the West, injunctions to those who can work from home, around the world, have an exceptional effect on the activity of professional instant messaging. The number of daily exchanges per user has increased by 20%. “Last week was the most productive week for us in Slack history! “ exclaims the serial entrepreneur during a videoconference interview with “Les Echos”. Since February 1, its technology has convinced an additional 9,000 companies to subscribe, twice as much as usual in a quarter.

44 million Microsoft Teams users

But Slack isn’t the only one taking advantage of the circumstances created by the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. According to the market research firm App Annie, the number of downloads of the mobile application of its rival Microsoft Teams (the descendant of Skype) increased by 305% in France the week of March 8, while the he possibility of confinement was taking shape in the minds of the population and of the leaders. The videoconference application downloads Zoom, the new Wall Street star, and Google Hangouts Meet were up 155% and 160% respectively.

“Everyone wins, except for collaborative solutions which are not designed on cloud computing online servers”, observes Arnaud Rayrole, the managing director of the consultancy in digital transformation Lecko. Hosted in numerous gigantic data centers, Slack, Teams and the others are by their nature designed to be used remotely, even on a home network completely unknown to the IT departments of the client company.

Globally, Microsoft Teams rose from 20 million users in November to 32 million on March 11, then 44 million at the last score on March 18. In France, where certain paid options became free during the crisis, the number of users increased 7-fold between March 10 and 17. “Microsoft Teams is gaining notoriety particularly because it was so far little used but already installed on 85% of workstations in large companies which pay for this tool at the same time as they subscribe to Word, Excel and Outlook”, says Arnaud Rayrole. Naturally, managers tend to focus on this software rather than another.

A French alliance in the cloud

Despite the fears, this influx of new users has been fairly well digested by the technical teams of the various couriers. Bugs were noted, but they very often resulted from an error in the configuration of the virtual private networks (VPN) of client companies. The flexibility of cloud computing has made it possible to correct the others. “We experienced a problem of allocation of our resources, it was difficult at the beginning to know where would be the most important additional needs, but it is solved”, explained Katy Dundas, marketing manager for Microsoft Teams, in mid-March – a few days after a bug in Europe.

In this context where the software interface counts almost as much as the servers that give it life, the French competitors of Teams and Slack have gone to make an alliance with one of the national IT champions, the northerner OVH. Hosted free of charge as part of the Open Solidarity program by Octave Klaba’s company, Jamespot or LumApps are also increasing the number of new customers.

One of their arguments? Technological sovereignty. “Microsoft is starting to have capacity problems and is restricting the activation of its servers for Europeans”, worries Alain Garnier, the boss of Jamespot. A point which could gain weight if ever the obligation of confinement extended to the whole of the United States.

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