Internet outages reached an all-time high during the pandemic

ThousandEyes reveals that downtime increased by a staggering 63% in March

Global internet outages saw an unprecedented rise during the pandemic, ThousandEyes has revealed, causing disruption for employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to ThousandEyes, outages increased by a staggering 63% between January and March and remained elevated through the first half of 2020, with June seeing a 44% surge in disruptions. 

Cloud and internet service providers (ISPs) were found to be the hardest hit, experiencing significant increases in network outages between January and July 2020.

During that period, cloud providers experienced an estimated 400 outages globally, compared to over 4,500 in ISP networks. When examining total outages, ThousandEyes found that more than 80% occurred within ISP networks and less than 10% within cloud provider networks. 

Regionally, ISP outages in EMEA grew month over month and experienced a record-high increase of 45% in June.

Meanwhile, North America and APAC regions experienced the largest spikes in March, at 65% and 99% respectively. Since then, their outages had returned to normal levels.

Content delivery network (CDN) and domain name system (DNS) providers are so far clear winners of the pandemic, according to ThousandEyes. Although they experienced a few unusual spikes in outages, they managed to maintain an overall good availability between January and July 2020.

Angelique Medina, research author and director of product marketing at ThousandEyes, called the internet “inherently unpredictable”, adding that “outages are inevitable even under normal conditions”.

“However, with the overnight transition to a remote workforce, remote schooling and remote entertainment that many countries experienced in March, we saw outages spike to unprecedented levels - especially among internet service providers who seem to have been more vulnerable to disruptions than cloud providers,” she said.

Overall, despite unprecedented conditions and an increase in network disruptions, ThousandEyes found that internet-related infrastructures “held up well” through the pandemic. Its perseverance suggests an overall healthy capacity, scalability, and operator agility, which is required in adjusting to unforeseen demands.

According to Paul Bevan, research director of IT infrastructure at Bloor Research, while at first “businesses and service providers scramble[d] to adjust, overnight, to work-from-home environments”, research has shown that there has been “a definite shift towards accommodating a more permanent scenario of serving a remote workforce”.

“This is creating a realignment of network infrastructure that will look very different from pre-March network platforms,” he added.

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