Sunday church services and family catch-ups were cancelled over the weekend, as the video conferencing software experienced an outage. So far, Zoom has been silent on what caused the issue, but there’s a chance the problems were related to server overloads.
Zoom has seen a huge rise in users as a result of quarantine. The platform has grown so popular that the company’s CFO confirmed that it had to add more servers to keep up with demand. But Zoom’s popularity might mean that it’s outgrowing company’s current structure.
In March, there were 200 million daily meeting participants on Zoom. By April, that number had grown to 300 million, according to Business of Apps. That’s a huge growth from the original 10 million users that the company had in December, so you can see how quickly the company has had to expand its resources.
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It wouldn’t be unexpected if this sudden growth in users resulted in some server overloads. This happens when a server is given more requests than it can handle and stops functioning properly as a result. You’ve probably experienced something similar before when trying to access a website – for example, when you’re trying to buy Beyoncé tickets, and you can’t get the site to load.
Zoom has said that it’s well-equipped to handle sudden traffic surges, as it can route said traffic through various global data centres if the user’s nearest centre is overwhelmed. So, in theory, traffic overload shouldn’t happen.
But in mid-April, it emerged that this type of versatile data handling had resulted in Zoom routing traffic through data centres in China, which made some people very unhappy. In an attempt to fix this, Zoom introduced data routing, which allowed users to choose where their data was being routed.
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This is only an option for people who have paid for their account, but if enough people choose to opt for the same data centres, then it could result in a handful of these centres receiving a higher proportion of traffic at certain times of the day. It certainly makes traffic overloads seem a more likely possibility.
When we reached out to Zoom, the company didn’t offer any further details on what was behind the outage, but issued the following statement:
“Zoom users impacted by an issue hosting and joining Zoom Meetings and Zoom Video Webinars should now be able to host, join, and participate in these sessions. We are continuing to assess this matter that impacted a subset of our users and will monitor to ensure no further operational impact. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused.”