On 5 March 2020, Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 released a statement to assure customers that Microsoft has everyone’s health as a top priority and how you can keep your business running with the free Microsoft Teams. Here’s what he said.
Yesterday News24 confirmed that the first case of Coronavirus has reached our shores. With the nature of our public transport system in South Africa and the fear of exposure increasing, many organisations are looking at how best to keep business going while still keeping their staff safe.
The natural idea many are turning to is remote working. And with tools like Microsoft Teams, remote working is not only possible but efficient. Using the tool ourselves, we are firm believers in the ability to work remotely using Teams. And this morning Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Jared Spataro, mirrored our thinking when he released a statement to partners.
Read his statement below and see how Microsoft are showing their commitment to customers during the coronavirus outbreak:
“With Coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to impact people and countries around the world, teams everywhere are moving to remote work. Earlier this week, I posted a letter from Lily Zheng, our colleague in Shanghai, detailing her team’s experience using Microsoft Teams to work from home during the outbreak. Lily’s team is one of many. Here at Microsoft in the Puget Sound, we’re encouraging our teams to work from home as much as possible, as are many organisations in this region. And we expect this trend to continue across the world. At Microsoft, our top priority is the health and safety of employees, customers, partners, and communities. By making Teams available to as many people as possible, we aim to support public health and safety by keeping teams connected while they work apart.
As we read the responses to Lily’s letter, it has become clear that there are two big questions on everyone’s mind.
1. How can people access the free Teams offerings that Lily referenced?
2. What is our plan for avoiding service interruptions during times of increased usage?”
Below, are the answers Spataro shared with us on how you can keep your employees safe by getting set up on Teams:
Making Teams available for everyone
The key thing to remember is that Teams is a part of Office 365. If your organisation is licensed for Office 365, you already have it. But Microsoft wants to make sure everyone has access to it during this time. So here are some simple ways to get Teams for free right away.
If you want to get started with Teams, we can get you up and running right away.
- If you have an email address through work or school, you can sign in using this link. And you can contact us to get you up and running on Teams in no time.
- If you’re using an email address like Gmail or Outlook, you can sign up for the freemium version of Teams by following this link.
The self-service links above work great for individuals, but if you’re an IT professional who wants to roll out Teams centrally, here’s what to do:
- If you work for a business that isn’t currently licensed for Teams, it's easy to get started with the free Office 365 E1 offer for six months. Contact us to get started today. (Note: the same offer is available in the Government Cloud, but not available in Office 365 GCC High and the Department of Defense.)
- If you work in education and want to set up teachers, students, and administrators on Teams, use Office 365 A1. This free version of Office 365 is available to all educational institutions. Click here to sign up.
For more insights on how to keep your company’s communication running in a crisis read our article where we also speak to remote working and the importance of collaboration tools.
Keeping Teams up and running
Your communication tools are vital to your business and we know that you need them up-and-running to stay connected and get work done.
“We take that responsibility seriously, and have a plan in place to make sure services stay up and running during impactful events like this.” - Jared Spataro
According to Spataro, the Microsoft business continuity plan anticipates three types of impacts to the core aspects of the service:
- Systems: When there’s a sudden increase in usage, like the surge we recently saw in China.
- Location: When there’s an unexpected event that is location-specific, such as an earthquake or a powerful storm.
- People: When there’s an event that may impact an organisation’s ability to maintain it’s system, like the COVID-19 outbreak in the Puget Sound area.
In his statement, Spataro also adds that they’ve recently tested service continuity during a usage spike in China. Since January 31, they’ve seen a 500% increase in Teams meetings, calling, and conferences there, and a 200% increase in Teams usage on mobile devices. He noted that, despite this usage increase, service has been fluid there throughout the outbreak.
Microsoft’s approach to delivering a highly available and resilient service centres on the following things:
- Active/Active design: Microsoft 365, is driving towards having all services architectured and operated in an active/active design to increase resiliency. This means that there are always multiple instances of the service running at a given time to respond to user requests. These instances are hosted in geographically dispersed data centres around the globe. All user traffic comes in through the Microsoft Front Door service and is automatically routed to an optimally located instance of the service which bypasses any service failures to prevent or reduce impact to customers.
- Reduce incident scope: It’s important to remember, that while an incident isn’t always 100% avoidable, Microsoft’s goal is to avoid incidents in the first place by limiting the scope of all failures that can occur by having multiple instances of each service partitioned off from each other. In addition, they continuously drive improvements in monitoring through automation - enabling faster incident detection and response rates.
- Fault isolation: Just as the services are designed and operated in an active/active fashion and are partitioned off from each other to prevent a failure in one from affecting another, the code base of the service is developed using similar partitioning principles called fault isolation. Fault isolation measures are incremental protections made within the code base itself. These measures help prevent an issue in one area from cascading into other areas of operation. You can read more about how Microsoft does this, along with all the details of the service continuity plan here.
While many organisations in South Africa aren’t quite ready to move to remote working, with the threat the coronavirus poses we might just see many more companies forced to embrace the philosophy. Luckily with the commitment Microsoft has made to ensuring Teams is available to all and runs smoothly, as Spataro’s statement proves, the transition won’t be too difficult for many. Especially if you work with a Microsoft Partner who has a robust user adoption service.
“Adjusting to remote work can be a challenge. We get it, and we are here to provide the tools, tips, and information you need to help you and your team meet that challenge. We’re inspired by the agility and ingenuity that impacted schools, hospitals, and businesses have shown throughout COVID-19, and we are committed to helping organisations everywhere stay connected and productive during this difficult time.” - Jared Spataro
If you’re ready to embrace the remote working world and get your business started on Microsoft Teams, contact us today. Or take our tech audit and find out just how ready you are to move to the cloud.