Before the 2020 pandemic, many businesses were not familiar with video communication apps. However, video call services saw an upsurge in 2020, and to date, small and large businesses rely on them for conferencing personal communications and clients’ appointments.
With that in mind, 4D Data Centres, a secure Tier-3 UK colocation data centre operator, researched how top video communication platforms managed to cope with the sudden demand rise for video communication during the 2020 lockdown. Further information about this research can be found here.
With the UK now coming to grips with another lockdown in 2021, this article takes a look back at the performance levels in 2020 and how people managed to communicate with each other online.
The Nature of the Findings
The research analysed almost 30,000 UK app store reviews between January and July 2019. The same period is used in 2020 to realise the differences. Top technology communication firms, including Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, were analysed for the proper insight of COVID-19 effect in the areas of performance and demand.
Note: This research uses the app consumer reviews and star ratings for its findings.
Research Result Overview
First, this research identified a correlation with the UK guidelines regarding the international travel ban, inter-state travel restriction, and social distancing. However, it took a bit of time for businesses to adapt to the changes.
These communication tech giants also experienced technical outages as more businesses trooped in to keep their activities alive. Reportedly, communication servers witnessed overloads, thus, crashing communications at some points.
When the UK lockdown extended to April 2020, Cisco Webex and Zoom hit their peak following user reviews, but how did other communication applications perform during the 2020 lockdown?
Cisco allied with IBM to enable video conferencing access to teachers in more than 24,000 schools through Webex.
In April 2020, the Webex program recorded 465 reviews with an average 3.95 rating. However, it faced technical setbacks in June 2020. The outage also affected over 24,000 schools using the servers for educational activities.
4D Data Centre’s research reveals that several of their clients connected to their servers in its data centres remotely and that they witnessed no traffic increase or power usage. Moreover, its services faced no downtime during the lockdown despite the excess capacity demand.
The usage number remains steady on Google Hangouts despite rivalling Zoom by allowing 250 participants for video calls. Google Hangouts also let 100,000 viewers on a domain or during live sessions, which kicked their service over competitors and aided larger businesses.
Following the Hangout’s improvements, several lecturers switched from Cisco Webex to handle many students per session.
Google Hangout witnessed a surge in its star review from 17 to 74 in 2020. However, the review dropped to 4.21 from 4.35 between June and July.
In June 2020, Microsoft Teams witnessed a user surge that resulted in 1,224 reviews as many universities chose its video call services.
The company further increased its team size to 10,000, making way for more varsities to flood in. However, the Microsoft Teams experienced technical issues following the user upsurge, and could barely tackle the demand. The issue also led to their star rating decline to 2.33 (June 2020) from 3.33 (2019).
Zoom’s review peaked at 2,533 in April 2020. However, due to security breaches and technical issues, Zoom’s review declined to 3.86 in April 2020 from 4.04 in March 2020.
Communication Software Will Ease Tension During the UK Lockdown
Despite the security breaches and technical issues caused by server overloads, several communications companies responded positively to the demand. The event was unexpected, and millions of people had to go contactless during the lockdown in the UK and globally.
Following 4D Data Centres’ research, Cisco and Zoom witnessed the highest demand through the April lockdown. Microsoft Teams also hit their peak demand in two months but slacked, especially after allowing 10,000 users per session.
Google Hangout, however, witnessed marginal demand gains owing to their consistency and restricting too many users per session.
Technical and Security Deficiencies
Starting from July, Cisco Webex experienced technical issues inducing crashes during video call sessions. Over 24,000 schools that introduced e-learning and depended on Cisco Webex migrated to alternative communication apps to continue school activities.
Google Hangout maintained moderate services and consistency, which resulted in minimal technical issues.
Zoom received its fair share, including security breaches and technical issues reportedly due to server overload in June.
Microsoft, attempting to edge competitors, faced technical issues after implementing the 10,000-per-session feature. By June 2020, the communication service witnessed a decline.
Can Video Calling Infrastructure Perform in 2021 Lockdown?
Zoom’s recovery amidst the drop resulting from security breaches and technical issues entail positivity. Despite struggling with their technology, the company managed to get back in the competition. Moreover, their fiscal quarter revenue between February and April aided their comeback. 4D Data Centre’s research indicates that Zoom’s earnings increased by $27 (£19.9) million.
Following the study, Google Hangout remained consistent while Microsoft Teams witnessed the lowest rating among the communication platforms.
Having garnered past months’ experiences, video calling infrastructure can perform in the looming 2021 UK lockdown.