How Your Network Impacts User Experience in a COVID-19 World
Before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, massive-scale remote connections over the Internet to households largely consisted of connections to entertainment services, such as Netflix. For those types of symmetric connections, fast download times ensure a good service. However, once the pandemic started, users working from home lacked sufficient upload times that could be at least 10 times slower for uploading data. This quickly became problematic for work-related connections, such as video and even audio connections for web meetings, said Mohit Lad, general manager, co-founder and former CEO of internet infrastructure monitoring company ThousandEyes.
“It’s just amazing the stress on the network that has been created with this work-from-home trend,” said Lad. When problems arise, it is difficult to pinpoint where in the network or application an employee might have difficulties when working with applications such as Salesforce or Office 365. “Is it my home network? Is it the internet? Is it something else?” said Lad. “That’s been a big challenge for organizations and that’s [what] we built our company around.”
“It’s been a challenging year for everybody, including our employees,” said Lad. “But at the same time, we’ve been looking at this as a really incredible learning experience where we can really truly understand the role the internet plays in every person’s life.”
Prior to the pandemic, large companies often had remote workers for whom the companies would equip with a VPN connection. However, when the pandemic began, the number of remote workers and the VPN connections required to help maintain security skyrocketed. With the help of load balancers and other technologies, it was necessary to maintain the connectivity and required bandwidth over VPNs for remote workers on an unprecedented scale.
Lad described a large global bank that has 200,000 employees, whose remote workers soared from about 30,000 employees working remotely to over 200,000 employees working from home in a matter of days. Initially, during the first wave of the pandemic, Lad described how companies quickly set up the necessary infrastructure to scale and maintain the VPN connections to support the surge of demand. During the next phase, the focus was maintaining the connections.
“People started to realize that there are still all these issues with experience of user applications,” said Lad. “That’s when they started to better understand what was missing from a visibility standpoint [and] what do we need to do to actually better understand that user experience and be able to troubleshoot that and so on.”