Microsoft explains the Impact of Coronavirus on their Cloud Services Usage

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This weekend, Microsoft reported that it has seen an incredible 775 percent increase in the use of its cloud services in places affected by the Corona virus with customers practicing 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.

Highlights

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,”.
  • 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.

The response

The company is doing a lot.

From the blog post…

Specifically, we are providing the highest level of monitoring during this time for the following:

  • 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
  • Health management applications and record systems

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.”

More from their blog post.

What actions are you taking to prevent capacity constraints?
We are expediting the addition of significant new capacity that will be available in the weeks ahead. Concurrently, we monitor support requests and, if needed, encourage customers to consider alternative regions or alternative resource types, depending on their timeline and requirements. If the implementation of these efforts to alleviate demand is not sufficient, customers may experience intermittent deployment related issues. When this does happen, impacted customers will be informed via Azure Service Health.

Have you needed to make any changes to the Teams experience?
To best support our Teams customers worldwide and accommodate new growth and demand, we made a few temporary adjustments to select non-essential capabilities such as how often we check for user presence, the interval in which we show when the other party is typing, and video resolution. These adjustments do not have significant impact on our end users’ daily experiences.

Is Xbox Live putting a strain on overall Azure capacity?
We’re actively monitoring performance and usage trends to ensure we’re optimizing services for gamers worldwide. At the same time, we’re taking proactive steps to plan for high-usage periods, which includes taking prudent measures with our publishing partners to deliver higher-bandwidth activities like game updates during off-peak hours.

How does in-home broadband use impact service continuity and capacity? Any specific work being done with ISPs?
We’ve been in regular communication with ISPs across the globe and are actively working with them to augment capacity as needed. In particular, we’ve been in discussions with several ISPs that are taking measures to reduce bandwidth from video sources in order to enable their networks to be performant during the workday.

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