Cisco Systems (CSCO -0.94%) Webex virtual conferencing software is seeing a huge uptick in usage as the coronavirus forces many employees to work from home.
During an interview , Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said that in the first eleven days of business in March Webex had 5.5 billion meeting minutes. On Monday alone, the executive said there were 3.2 million virtual conferencing meetings across the globe. That doesn't include one-on-one meetings. It doesn't hurt that Cisco is making Webex available free for 90 days, providing unlimited usage and support for as many as 100 participants.
With the coronavirus forcing millions of people to stay home, demand for video conferencing and digital collaboration apps have been surging. That is only expected to grow even more now that many U.S. workers have been asked to work remotely. Microsoft (MSFT -0.68%), Alphabet's (GOOG -4.50%) (GOOGL -4.44%) Google, and Zoom (ZM -0.44%) have all seen record demand for their platforms since the outbreak. Zoom said earlier this month that usage is up significantly from the 100 billion minutes run rate it experienced at the end of January. To help out during the outbreak Zoom has removed the 40 minute limit on meetings and is offering its video conferencing tools for free to K-12 schools.
The demand is also taxing some of these platforms as companies increasingly rely on them to keep operations going. On Monday Microsoft's (MSFT -0.68%) Teams chat and collaboration app crashed for two hours amid an influx of users. Slack (WORK) went as far as to lay out what it's doing to ensure it remains up and running during the spike in demand. During an earnings conference call, the company said it's seeing a "massive outpouring" of interest.