Service providers are adapting to changing traffic demands driven by COVID-19 quarantines by building up more capacity, expanding the locations of their points of presence, and even shifting their supply chains, according to several that discussed the measures during a virtual conference.

Network leaders from Dropbox, Equinix, Netflix and Zoom talked about their experiences during an event hosted by network-visibility and performance-management vendor Kentik on March 25. For the most part, they reported that their services and the underlying networks they rely on are holding up well, but they have also had to make adjustments.

Scaling capacity quickly, strategically

The popularity of Zoom’s conferencing service has surged along with the coronavirus, as coworkers, families and friends try to stay connected while maintaining physical distance. Alex Guerrero, senior manager of SaaS operations at Zoom, says the company was in a good position to deliver before the outbreak. “Luckily, we were kind of ahead of the curve, as we had probably 50% more capacity than we needed at our maximum usage to begin with. So we try to keep that [buffer] in place,” Guerrero said. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve been all-hands-on-deck to keep that standard.”

The general philosophy has been to procure as much bandwidth as needed. At the same time the company is trying to think strategically about how it wants to scale over the long term. For example, Zoom uses Equinix’s network-interconnection platform to establish private connections to its technology partners and service-provider customers.

Guerrero is looking at ways to improve its proximity to end users by augmenting Zoom’s peering relationships, ordering more transit, and increasing bandwidth on existing interconnections. “Our product can handle a lot of latency, but the closer you are to the eyeballs, the better performance you’re going to get across the board. So that’s mainly what I’m looking at,” Guerrero said.

Zoom uses 19 data centers globally, where it’s connected to the biggest exchange points in each market. “But now we’re looking at the second-biggest, and maybe the third-biggest” to move even closer to more end users, he said.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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