Zoom outage upends remote work, distance learning

Zoom, the video conferencing system on which so many people rely on, reported problems Monday morning. With the global pandemic, Zoom is the way many of us are getting to work or school.

The company reported shortly before 6 a.m. that users were unable to visit the Zoom website or enter meetings or webinars.

Tech analyst Larry Magid said Zoom and video platforms like it have become increasingly popular in the last few years, but people have become reliant on it during the pandemic. 

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"A lot of kids are now back in school," said Magid. "And by back in school I mean, back online. Monday morning, people go to work and these days when many of us go to work we go to work via Zoom."

Problems persisted for over four hours. Zoom reported that the problem was fixed by 10:10 am. Tech analyst Bob O'Donnell said the problem seemed to be with authentication, which puts an extra demand on the platform, having to carry the calls and verify everyone's identity. 

"My guess is it may have had to do with a lot of traffic, combined with that need for authentication. The two together just created this issue," said O'Donnell.

O'Donnell said the problems highlight how reliant American workers and students have become on video conferencing, and how an outage can even impact those who aren't using Zoom. 

"Maybe the parents had a meeting on Webex while the kids were in a Zoom class, and yet if the kids' Zoom goes down, they're going to have to walk away from their meeting to help them out," he said. Adding, "And again, there is that ripple effect."

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Analysts say with widespread use this is unlikely to be the last outage.

 "I think systems are being built up to make them more resilient," said O'Donnell. "At the same time, we're becoming more dependent so those two are always going to clash to some degree. Hopefully, we will see them be more reliable, but my guess is this won't be the last outage we're talking about on these systems."

Analysts KTVU spoke with agree that now that we've seen the capabilities of video conferencing platforms, we can expect them to remain in use even after the pandemic is over and workers return to their offices and kids return to classrooms.