Zoom Video Communications’ meteoric rise from a startup with 40 engineers in 2011 to its $20 billion initial public offering in 2019 was widely reported. But what isn’t as widely known is how Zoom’s lean IT team supports the company’s phenomenal growth.
Zoom’s growth is attributed to its founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan’s commitment to delivering high-quality, cost-effective and easy-to-use cloud-based video communications software that keeps customers—and employees—happy.
Yet, there is one area of Zoom’s business that hasn’t grown as fast. As Gary Chan, Zoom’s head of corporate IT explains: “We cannot expand office space fast enough to keep pace with the growth of our workforce right now.”
By June 2018, Zoom’s headcount was 1,100-strong, with employees spread across three continents. By May 2019—a month after its IPO—the workforce had grown to 1,700 employees, which included significant growth in Australia and the U.K. and a new, larger London office.
During this period of rapid growth, some Zoom employees were working from home while the Workplace and IT teams worked frantically to expand offices to accommodate the growth. “We were growing so fast that we had no room for all our employees,” explains Zoom IT manager John Awad, who himself worked from home during this time.
Fortunately, that’s exactly the type of challenge Zoom technology was built to solve. To help support both its rapid growth and its collaborative “work anywhere” culture, Zoom combined its own award-winning technology with VMware’s to deliver a secure digital workspace across three continents.
The goal of Zoom’s digital workspace efforts is twofold: to enable a small IT team to rapidly provision new devices and apps so employees can be productive on day one, and to make security and compliance of apps and data invisible to end users.
According to Chan, the team chose VMware Workspace ONE because it supports Zoom’s heterogeneous IT environment. “Zoom has a pretty large population of Mac users in general, but internationally, we have more Windows laptops and fewer Macs.” Chan adds: “Workspace ONE is a single platform that can manage both MacOS and Windows. That’s great. It’s not very common to find a solution that can do well on both platforms, as well as give you capabilities on iOS and Android.”
Zoom’s IT team benefits from the unified endpoint management offered by Workspace ONE, which enables them to streamline device management. What’s more, IT has peace of mind knowing that every endpoint device is safeguarded and complies with IT security policies.
Previously, Zoom’s IT team had to manually enforce IT security policies and software patches, which is a painful process for a hyper-growth company. Now with Workspace ONE, Zoom IT proactively secures the digital workspace of users, apps and endpoints.
Zoom IT can continuously track device state, user details and authentication context to determine user and device risk. Moreover, with configurable data loss prevention policies, Zoom’s IT team can monitor for threats, including malware, malicious apps and compromised security protections (such as with jailbroken devices). The IT team can automatically remediate by remotely locking, wiping or making access control changes for devices.
Workspace ONE not only helps Zoom improve security compliance, it also saves IT a lot of time in rolling out updates. As Awad explains: “Instead of going around to see who from engineering has personally identifiable information or source code on their computer, we push out blanket policies. So instead of touching every device, we’re now installing Workspace ONE on the devices and pushing out policies to all devices simultaneously. That gives us peace of mind.”
Pushing out OS updates and patches is also becoming automated. Zoom’s updating and patching process used to be manual, with IT sending files to users and asking them to update their laptops; it was difficult to enforce across the company. “Workspace ONE helps us tick a lot of compliance boxes,” adds Awad. Now, if a third party needs to examine Zoom’s IT security processes, the team can show them the Workspace ONE dashboard. Previously, the IT team would have selected 10 laptops at random and carried out spot checks.
Zoom uses Workspace ONE to help shorten the time it takes to prepare a new laptop for new employees. So far, administrators have reduced laptop provisioning from two hours to 15 minutes.
Zoom expects to decrease Apple laptop provisioning using the zero-touch deployment capabilities of Apple Device Enrolment Program (DEP), supported by Workspace ONE. With DEP, end users can begin working on their Apple devices quickly after unboxing and advancing a few screens.
Remote encryption of laptops, automated policy updates and shorter laptop provisioning times have been initial priorities for Zoom with Workspace ONE. Chan says the company’s use of the solution will grow as Zoom grows, especially because Workspace ONE can integrate tightly with Zoom’s video communications software.
Every time Zoom publishes a new setting or configuration—for example to its Zoom Rooms conferencing solution—Workspace ONE can be used to automatically push out those updates to each device. In fact, any organisation can use Workspace ONE to quickly and automatically configure Zoom Rooms across their facilities at a touch of a button. Encryption and client device enrolment are simplified through Workspace ONE and can be done in a matter of minutes.
“Imagine opening a new office with dozens or even hundreds of Zoom Rooms. With Workspace ONE, you can push a button to get them all configured and secured correctly without having to touch a single machine,” says Awad. “That’s a powerful way to enable collaboration and support in a ‘work anywhere’ culture.”
The philosophy of radically simplifying the user experience—an important success factor for Zoom’s video communications platform—extends to the IT team’s approach for supporting colleagues. One way Zoom will do this is by integrating the single sign-on capabilities of Okta with Workspace ONE. Awad explains: “Users will log into their laptops using their Okta password, and not their local admin or user password. That by itself is going to improve our user experience dramatically and reduce a lot of IT tickets coming to us from users forgetting their passwords.”
It’s just one more way Zoom keeps everyone engaged, productive and happy. ▪
Disclosure: VMware CIO, Bask Iyer has been a business advisor to the Zoom leadership team since the early days of the company. VMware is also a user of Zoom Video Communications. Read the accompanying article to learn more.