Microsoft Details Impact of Coronavirus on Cloud Services Usage (Upated)

Posted on March 29, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Microsoft with 11 Comments

Update: Microsoft has updated its communication about this issue because it feels it hasn’t been clear about a particularly important data point. And they have provided the following quote:

“We have seen a 775 percent increase in Teams’ calling and meeting monthly users in a one month period in Italy, where social distancing or shelter in place orders have been enforced.”

Microsoft reported this weekend that it has seen an incredible 775 percent increase in the use of its cloud services in places with social distancing and shelter-in-place orders.

“In response to health authorities emphasizing the importance of social distancing, we’ve seen usage increases in services that support these scenarios—including Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, and Power BI,” the Microsoft Azure team writes in its latest update.

In the past week alone, Microsoft has seen:

  • A 775 percent increase in overall cloud services usage in those regions that have enforced social distancing or shelter in place orders.
  • A “very significant spike” in Teams usage, which now has over 44 million daily users. “Those users generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes on Teams daily in a single week,” Microsoft says.
  • 3X usage growth in Windows Virtual Desktop.
  • A 42 percent surge in government use of public Power BI to share COVID-19 dashboards with citizens.

To cope with this massive new usage, Microsoft says it will continue to prioritize support for critical health and safety organizations to ensure that remote workers can stay up and running with core Teams functionality.

“Specifically, we are providing the highest level of monitoring during this time for first responders (fire, EMS, and police dispatch systems); emergency routing and reporting applications; medical supply management and delivery systems; applications to alert emergency response teams for accidents, fires, and other issues; healthbots, health screening applications, and websites; and health management applications and record systems,” the firm notes.

Referring to the impact this crisis has had on Azure customers, especially in Europe, Microsoft said that it is implementing temporary restrictions so that it can deliver the best possible experience.

“We have placed limits on free offers to prioritize capacity for existing customers,” Microsoft says. “We also have limits on certain resources for new subscriptions. These are ‘soft’ quota limits, and customers can raise support requests to increase these limits. If requests cannot be met immediately, we recommend customers use alternative regions (of our 54 live regions) that may have less demand surge. To manage surges in demand, we will expedite the creation of new capacity in the appropriate region.”

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Comments (11)

11 responses to “Microsoft Details Impact of Coronavirus on Cloud Services Usage (Upated)”

  1. Vladimir Carli

    really amazing numbers

  2. red.radar

    all the cloud providers should be commended. In the last few weeks, their services have been reliable through unprecedented shiftsamd increases in demand.

    its been a ray of hope that in this difficult time the Internet has remained reliable.

    • panderse

      In reply to red.radar:

      Indeed. And for anyone noting the minor outages or service degradations such as lower video bandwidth in Teams we should all consider how much worse this would have played out if you had stuck with an on-premises communications infrastructure. It's very hard to imagine an IT organization needing to increase capacity for remote workers with just 300% in a short while if they were running on on-premises hardware in the enterprise.

      • christian.hvid

        In reply to panderse:

        That's a very good point. Many organizations are requiring people to show up at work, thus putting lives at risk, simply because they cannot scale up their on-premises infrastructure fast enough to support remote work. This should be a wake-up call.

        • wright_is

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          We have to turn up, because there is no other option.

          Some jobs just can't be done remotely. We are in manufacturing, you can't weigh and pour chemicals into vats remotely. You can't connect the tanker to the silo to load/unload etc. It isn't always about scaling on-premises.

          Some of our back-office staff are working from home and they aren't really hitting our capacity limits - VPN + RDP. Others are then spread out throughout the empty offices to minimize contact.

          But production is production, you can't reduce staff numbers there without making it dangerous. (We make, among other things, ingredients for personal hygiene products and disinfectants.)

          • christian.hvid

            In reply to wright_is:

            Of course, I was referring to employees who might just as well work from home, but can't because of capacity limitations. Far from every organization has this problem, obviously, but nobody can deny that the instant scalability of cloud computing has some real world benefits. Although I wish we hadn't needed a pandemic to drive home that point.

    • wright_is

      In reply to red.radar:

      Partially. Teams had a couple of wobbles in the first few days, with several hours of outages. Likewise Azure had capacity problems in Europe.

      But, in general, yes they have done a good job.

    • igor engelen

      In reply to red.radar:I don't know about other countries but in Belgium the telecom operators are helping out too. They are dropping mobile data limits, phone call scenarios that would normally cost money are free now etc. To make sure people can stay connected.

    • jwpear

      In reply to red.radar:

      It has been impressive. Knock on wood, but I've been working from home for two weeks solid and have not missed a beat in my neck of the woods. There was one brief moment, early one morning, where it seemed my ISP was struggling with some issue. I switched to mobile for 20 mins. ISP quickly resolved the issue.

      We rely quite heavily on Azure to do our work and provide our apps and services to clients. This has been working well and has been a great showcase for why all of our clients should be moving to the cloud.

      On the flip side, I'm just waiting for the ISPs to use this situation to underscore why "we need to tier" the internet with fast and slow lanes.

  3. ghostrider

    Where there's war, disease or famine, someone will be making money out of it, and yes, I'm sure some cloud service providers, Microsoft included, have seen this pandemic as a business opportunity. Money is money at the end of the day, and always will be.

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