Update (April 1, 2020): It seems that there was some confusion at Microsoft’s end. The 775% increase in usage numbers revealed earlier doesn’t reflect all of Azure Cloud services.
An increase of 755% was only observed for “Microsoft Teams’ calling and meeting monthly users in a one month period in Italy, where social distancing or shelter in place orders have been enforced,” the company said in a statement sent to Fossbytes.
The title of the story has been changed to reflect the same.
The original story continues from here.
It’s not just video streaming services, the Coronavirus pandemic has put a significant load on various cloud computing services as well.
Microsoft Azure has witnessed an increase in usage by over 775% in regions where social distancing and shelter-in-place orders are being enforced, the company revealed in a blog post on Saturday.
Other than being home to virtual machines, the Azure Cloud powers other services, including Microsoft Teams, PowerBI, and Windows Virtual Desktop.
Microsoft noticed a considerable usage spike in Teams software, where users made over 900 million minutes of calls per day in a single week. The Slack-alternative now ranks among the most popular team communication platforms with over 44 million users. Similarly, Windows Virtual Desktop saw a 3x rise in usage numbers.
Clearly, this is way overboard the company’s expectations, and possibly its operational capacity. That’s why Microsoft is trying to balance the situation by making a bunch of changes.
The Windows tech giant has already toned down the video resolution on Teams, among other changes, like checking less frequently whether a user is online or not. The tech giant recently announced new features for Teams as well — one is a noise filter that removes unnecessary background noises during a video call.
Prioritizing Microsoft Azure to fight COVID-19
Due to the unprecedented rise in the usage numbers, Microsoft previously announced that it would prioritize its cloud services for first responders, healthcare services, medical supply systems, health bots, etc. As per the new blog post, changes have been made to its prioritization policy.
There are some temporary restrictions in place, which include limiting the number of freebies to maintain the cloud capacity for the existing customers.
There will also be a limit on some resources for new subscribers. However, users can raise support requests to get an increase or switch to a less crowded Azure region if the demands aren’t met.
Microsoft further said that it’s working on boosting the capacity of the Azure Cloud, which should be visible in the coming weeks. While the increased usage might have stressed its cloud services, the company hasn’t observed any significant service disruptions as of now.
The company is also trying to make sure that gaming services don’t disrupt important work. It’s constantly monitoring Xbox Live to know about peak usage times and optimize bandwidth-consuming activities, like rolling out heavy game updates during off-peak hours.
This comes after millions are working from home in the wake of the pandemic, thus increasing overall internet usage.
Anyway, Microsoft isn’t the only company finding it hard to keep up with its online services. Recently, YouTube, along with other streaming services, reduced its video quality to compensate for the increased bandwidth consumption.