Note from Editor: By now, there’s a lot of information out there about how the EUC industry is responding to Coronavirus. Just like we do with the Friday Notebook and our EMM resources guide, we wrote this article to bring all the most useful information together in one place. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below, find us on Twitter, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Rachel Berry for helping us put this together.
Version 3, Wednesday, April 08, 2020. Originally published Thursday, March 26.
- Microsoft reported a 775% increase in Teams calling and meeting monthly users in Italy. You might have seen this initial listed and reported as a 775% increase in cloud services, which caused quite a bit of confusion. They also say “Windows Virtual Desktop usage has grown more than 3x.” Note that they don’t say whether this means compute hours, users, VMs, trials tenants, or something else, and we don’t have a base number anyway. Here’s more context from Mary Jo Foley.
- Microsoft is offering an emergency update for a Windows 10 bug that was affecting some remote workers.
- [NEW] Microsoft internal and external events, this includes Ignite 2020, Ignite the Tour, MVP Summit 2021 and Build 2021 will be digital-only.
- Microsoft announced that they had revised the end of support date for Windows 10 version 1709 to October 13, 2020. They are also pausing optional Windows 10 cumulative updates starting in May, opting to instead focus on security updates.
- Microsoft announced a free six-month trial of Teams, including all Premium features, whilst updating the Free version to include all Premium features for existing users; this raises certain limits and enables video calls. Microsoft Teams usage has increased from 12 million daily users to 44 million daily users. (Via Mary Jo Foley.)
- However, due to increased demand for cloud services, Microsoft is temporarily reducing some features of OneNote, SharePoint, and other applications in order to keep Microsoft 365 and Office 365 running as expected.
- [NEW] Microsoft has published an article about helping IT send and provision business PCs for remote workers.
- Microsoft released an interesting article about their service continuity commitments. They mention that their “Top priority will be going to first responders, health and emergency management services, critical government infrastructure organizational use, and ensuring remote workers stay up and running with the core functionality of Teams.” (Spotted by Ruben Spruijt.) Citrix CTA Neil McLouglin, along with The Register and ZDNet have alerted the community to potential signs of Azure capacity issues.
- Microsoft published advice on how to manage remote machines with SCCM without having to rely on a VPN, as well as guidance on how organizations (well, their admins anyway) can rapidly get employees working from home, including tips like using MFA, conditional access, and more.
- From Microsoft: “How to quickly optimize Office 365 traffic for remote staff & reduce the load on your infrastructure” and “Running on VPN: How Microsoft is keeping its remote workforce connected.”
- Microsoft Build will be online, May 19-21. The 2020 MVP Summit was one of the first Microsoft conferences to go online, and friend of the site Mike Nelson wrote about his experience.
- While not explicitly about Coronavirus, the new Microsoft 365 Family Subscriptions have some family safety and wellbeing features that are certainly appropriate these days.
- Microsoft hosted an Azure Virtual Community Day on Tuesday, March 31.
- [NEW] Some long-time users are reporting Azure capacity issues.
- [NEW] Microsoft has released a very good guidance blog covering patching and VPNs with Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager. Following on from a previous blog detailing the options and configuration available to allow a remotely managed PC to intelligently leverage the broadband connection without adding traffic load on the VPN connection back to the corporate network.
- [NEW] Microsoft has deferred plans to disable insecure legacy Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.0 and 1.1 by default in Microsoft browsers..
- [NEW] Microsoft is extending the previously announced retirement date for its Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Certified Solutions Architect (MCSA) certifications by seven months, until January 31, 2021.
- [NEW] Microsoft issues its first-ever targeted ransomware alert to hospitals over their vulnerable VPN appliances. Since 2019,it’s been reported that hackers have been targeting vulnerabilities in VPN servers from Pulse Secure, Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, and Citrix amongst others. With so many relying on VPNs to secure their organizations, it’s a stark warning on the importance of patching at this time.
- [NEW] Synergy has been pushed back to a TBD date in the fall and will be virtual.
- The next edition of Citrix Converge, the micro app developer conference, is now a two-week online event, starting March 30. As part of the online event, Citrix will host a virtual hackathon.
- A new blog from Rory Monaghan contains some very useful thoughts on RemotePC. Meanwhile, Citrix themselves have a new RemotePC design guide (updated on March 27) among plenty of other blogs and updated resources.
- The Citrix Workspace app for HTML5 now supports generic USB device redirection. So, any device that can run a modern Chrome browser now becomes a first-class endpoint.
- We’ve seen at least one report of capacity issues in the Citrix Public Cloud, via Guy Leech.
- Citrix is expanding remote proctoring for a few 300- and 400-level exams until August 1.
- New reference architecture covering Citrix Application Delivery Controller (ADC) Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB).
- VMware has updated guides on using Horizon 7 to connect to physical PCs (Also see here and here). Brian Madden (the person) and Shawn Bass published a practical and vender-neutral guide to supporting remote users, part of VMware’s business continuity series. Also see: Can BYOD help during a pandemic?
- VMware is now offering an extended free trial of Workspace One for 90 days and up to 100 devices for anyone who signs up before July 31.
- Andy Morgan released the alpha of the Wake On Lan Mesh Service, written for people wishing to power manage computers for remote access. (Version 1.1 is now available.)
- Criselda Flores, a pre-sales engineer at VMware, wrote about accessing network file shares via per-app VPN using Workspace ONE.
- Dell Technologies World, which in the past has included news from VMware, has been rescheduled to October.
- [NEW] VMware has announced 90-day free licences on the recently acquired portfolio from Menlo Security which provide cloud security and prevent phishing attacks. We covered Menlo’s security capabilities for remote browsing last year in depth.
- [NEW] William Lam has created a VMware Appliance to allow the VMware community to donate CPU/GPU cycles to the folding at home projects efforts to resource researchers researching for a vaccine against the COVID-19.
- Google Cloud NEXT 2020, originally scheduled for April 6, and then set to be a virtual conference, has now been postponed. Google I/O 2020, which was scheduled for May has been cancelled.
- G Suite and G Suite for Education customers will get free access to advanced features, such as up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers, and recording and saving meetings to Google Drive. This offer lasts until July 1.
- Google originally announced that they would be pausing Chrome and Chrome OS updates, however on March 26, they said they were resuming updates and even releasing some updates early.
- WWDC 2020 will be an online-only event in June, with no specific date announced yet.
- [NEW] Apple is letting retail employees work from home by providing technical support to customers.
- New video guide on implementing RemotePC on Parallels RAS infrastructure, from Cláudio Rodrigues.
EMM, endpoint management, and identity
- Okta Oktane will be a free online event, running April 1 to 2, and is the first major online show that Jack and Kyle will be covering.
- Okta is offering an Emergency Remote Work package for free for 6 months.
- BlackBerry is now providing organizations with 60 days of free usage of their enterprise features, which includes BlackBerry UEM, BlackBerry Desktop, BlackBerry 2FA, BlackBerry SecuSUITE, BBM-E and BlackBerry PROTECT.
- Jamf announced a range of offers for customers, K-12 schools, and healthcare providers that will be good until September 30. The offers include unlimited extra licences for existing customers, unlimited licences for new customers purchasing a minimum, and a free offer for K-12 education and healthcare providers.
- Addigy will provide 60 days of free access to its Apple Device Management Platform.
- Idaptive is offering free SSO and MFA for 6 months.
- [NEW] Imprivata is offering free temporary licenses for GroundControl for any industry until July 31, 2020. Imprivata offers security products with a particularly strong presence in healthcare.
- [NEW] Baramundi are offering free, no-obligation use of their UEM software for at least four months, to secure and manage remote endpoints.
- [NEW] With reports that networking giant Cisco is having to ration VPN usage for its 100k+ employees and reports that Kaspersky is now enforcing data limits on the free usage thrown in with its AV products, we expect to see a lot of others finding VPN servers strained by volumes of home workers they were not sized for.
DaaS and desktop virtualization ecosystem
- Workspot has published a couple case studies about how their customers have handled continuing to work during the pandemic. Jack recently covered their new multi-region disaster recovery offering, which builds off their Cloud Desktop Fabric that allows customers to back up their cloud desktops into completely different Azure regions.
- Amazon announced they are offering WorkSpaces and WorkDocs for free to customers up to 50 users between April 1 and June 30. This includes their Standard, Premium, and Basic bundles for new and existing customers.
- Nutanix is offering a free 30-day trial of Frame, which given their history may well suit those struggling with CAD/3-D applications on VPN.
- [NEW] Nutanix wrote an article about how to quickly add support for remote workers.
- Several vendors out there, including The GRID Factory, OpenBoundaries, and IMSCAD, have special offers out for those who need 3-D intensive DaaS. Some people are finding out that CAD via VPN is rarely a good idea!
- Our colleagues over at SearchVirtualDesktop wrote that this pandemic could lead to a possible uptick in DaaS adoption.
- [NEW] For those who virtualize Siemens CAD/CAE products, e.g., engineering schools with NVIDIA or AMD technologies, it’s worth knowing that Siemens has announced some free resources for existing and new customers, particularly in the education and healthcare sectors.
- NVIDIA is expanding their 90-day free vGPU trial from 128 licenses to 500 licenses. GTC Digital 2020 was this week and GPU virtualization fans can get a good overview here.
- Ericom is offering free 60-day licenses for Ericom AccessNow and Ericom Connect remote access solutions for the first 100 users in an organization or educational institution.
- SquaredUp is providing a new Business Continuity edition of SquaredUp dashboards for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM), free for 6 months.
- UberAgent is offering a 2 months free trial to help monitor working from home. A useful splunk based monitoring and planning tool for VPN and VDI scenarios.
- Software2 is offering free AppsAnywhere licenses to higher education customers for 90 days.
- [NEW] Workspot has published some useful case studies on CAD/AEC/3-D VDI use cloud VDI.
- [NEW] Workspot together with Microsoft Azure have announced the availability of a solution based around AMD’s licence-free Cloud GPU offering. Suitable for office user type VDI but also graphically intensive CAD/3-D type uses.
- Despite the large number of users on Microsoft Teams right now, many are opting to use different collaboration apps because of Teams’ limit on the number of concurrent video feeds. Cisco Webex allows up to 25 video streams and Zoom can do 49.
- Zoom has removed the 40-minute limit on their free tier for US K-12 students and teachers (they previously did this in China and other impacted areas). Other areas eligible for the free Basic tier with the removed time limit include Denmark, France, South Korea, Poland, and more.
- Of course with all the attention on Zoom comes increased scrutiny. There’s ZoomBombing (don’t publish your meeting links without locking down settings); Zoom’s usage of an SDK from Facebook; and apparently a shady macOS installer; on top of that local web server issue from last summer. Here’s more from Daring Fireball.
- [NEW] Zoom responds to the mounting concerns regarding the security and privacy of users.
- [NEW] The Zoom security saga continues with further security flaws reported in addition to the growing incidents of “Zoombombing,” including a U.S. Senate meeting and now the FBI issuing warnings regarding the platform.
- Slack has added 7,000 customers since February 1 (numbers from March 19), compared to just 5,000 customers for the entire previous quarter.
- Webex says that traffic has increased by 22 times in China and increased 4 to 5 times in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. For free users, eligible countries can get unlimited usage, up to 100 participants, and toll dial-in offers. Cisco is also providing free 90-day licenses to non-Webex customers.
- LogMeIn is providing free three-month availability of their Emergency Remote Work Kits for front-line service providers, eligible healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities, and nonprofits. These kits give users access to many LogMeIn products like GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and GoToMyPC.
- Our SearchContentManagement colleagues put together a list of collaboration vendors that are providing free use of their services.
- [UPDATED] Bas van Kaam published the ultimate remote video conferencing and online meeting software cheat sheet, now updated to version 3 and now includes security.
- Our TechTarget colleagues at SearchContentManagement have their own list of free remote working technology.
- [NEW] TeamViewer to offer all schools and universities free Blizz licenses for video chats for up to 50 participants.
Outside and beyond of EUC, but still relevant
Beyond the EUC space, one of the big tech stories that we’ve been following is the network impact of millions of people staying home, using lots of video conferencing services and streaming more videos.
- YouTube announced they were going to lower quality worldwide for a month, defaulting videos to SD. Users can manually select HD, if they prefer.
- Netflix, urged on by the European Union, reduced its streaming bit rates across Europe. Gabe Knuth has some practical advice about turning down your Netflix streaming quality to reduce bandwidth consumption to be a good neighbor.
- Using an ad blocker is also a very effective way to reduce the bandwidth used when Web browsing, Dan Allen and Nick Rintalin from the ProjectVRC team did some work around this a while ago; they found news sites and online tabloids were a particular problem.
- The newsletter from former Andreeson Horowitz analyst Benedict Evans included several anecdotes from telecom providers, including Cloudflare, Nokia, Verizon, Spanish carriers, and BT. Traffic is up 25% to 50%, and peak usage times are lasting longer.
- [NEW] Community Guide - Recording and Editing video from Rachel Berry, Adam Glick, and Claire Pollard. Aimed to help techies, marketing folks, and teachers make DIY videos demos, how to and training videos or online lessons. Covering products to help record, edit, and transcode and considerations like copyright on effects and music.
- [NEW] For those struggling with contention of devices with perhaps a spouse working from home and kids requiring devices to attend online schooling. It may be worth checking out MVP Loryan Strat who shared that apparently you can do a Microsoft Teams meeting via Edge on your Xbox (also using a Plantronics Rig 800LX headset and Jabra PanaCast webcam).
- [NEW] In the UK, nonprofit IXP, the London Internet Exchange point have cut prices, in a move to encourage and help ISPs to expand capacity. The highly competitive UK market with nonprofit players differs significantly from the US market. The majority of major broadband providers in the UK have already cut data caps to assist with COVID-19 mitigation.
- [NEW] A lot of us have been fielding questions from friends and family about bad in-home Wi-Fi and local broadband. Rachel found this article is a good sanity check that explains why Wi-Fi may have issues and how to improve things as well as some more basic information on where and where not to put your router has helped a few.
- [NEW] Amazon have announced virtual events and classes aimed at current university students whose education has been disrupted (they look suitable for those who would have left high school this year, too). They cover a range of life, study and technical skills including courses on how to do a remote interview, skills and tools when studying remotely, AI/ML and how data is stored in the cloud.
- [NEW] Google has launched a really comprehensive site for teachers and educators called Teach From Home. It’s an excellent resource outlining how to do most of a teachers job online via various Google solutions. It has a particularly good section on accessibility covering how to help students who may have problems using a keyboard or have hearing/sight issues that require extra features for inclusivity (e.g., subtitles).
While we’ve focused on EUC-related news here, there are plenty of other broad IT industry roundups.
- Here’s Forbes on free software for businesses and education.
- TechTarget’s SearchCIO has a list of conferences that have been cancelled or moved online.
More EUC community notes
- The EUC Masters Retreat has been rescheduled from April to November 13 to 15.
- Alex from E2EVC is reminding people that tickets to E2EVC scheduled for Madrid in June 2020 are transferable at any time to a future event such as Barcelona 2020, Hamburg 2021 or Athens 2021.
- Check out what’s been going on with @MagicLeap, which has been really putting AR and VR collaborative remote meetings to the test using spatial.io. You can see more from community guru Chris Matthieu (known from his time with OctoBlu at Citrix). The pictures and videos they’ve been posting over the last weeks are truly inspiring.
- For our friends and family who are dealing with remote work for the very first time, I’d highly recommend this accessibility guide from Kate Bevan at Which. It explains what two-factor authentication (2FA) is and why it should be turned on wherever possible. Andre Laughlin has a great guide to password managers suitable for a similar audience on the same site.
- [NEW] InfoSecurity Europe (InfoSec) scheduled for June 2020 at Olympia, London has been postponed.
- The Chrome extension Houseparty has become popular amongst those in the Dutch EUC as a way to share movie watching. (As always, be careful when it comes to Chrome extensions.)
- Whilst we are keen to avoid blindly obvious advice on how to manage your time, when to wear pyjamas, or what office chair you need, I would recommend catching up with a webinar given by a large number of EUC gurus earlier this week, titled “Inside secrets for successful working from home!” The webinar included Ruben Spruijt, Rob Beekmans, Ingmar Verheij, Pim van de Vis, Remko Weijnen, Christiaan Brinkhoff, Jits Langedijk, Sven Huisman, and Kees Baggerman. The tips were quite good, but even better, you get to be nosy and see inside these guys homes, their desk and monitor setups, and their taste in interior decor!
- Jack’s final thought: Is it the year of VDI? In a very week when all the school kids have discovered Zoom and your spouse has suddenly heard of Citrix, you start thinking that maybe the share prices of a lot of EUC companies are also holding out pretty well against the general market, and there are potentially a lot of new long-term customers out there. Rory (again) did a quick survey with around 300 responses on Twitter, and it seems there are a lot of potential customers out there still using probably painful VPN as their remote access method.