Video Conferencing Players See Volcanic Cloud's Silver Lining

With Planes Grounded, Citrix, Logitech Seeing Traffic Gains, Marketing Opportunities

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YORK, Pa. ( -- Cloud computing has taken on a new meaning for many businesses this week. The massive volcanic ash clouds that spread across Europe have forced many to turn to their computers instead of the airlines for meetings and conferences.

Citrix' GoToMeeting web-conferencing service traffic has doubled compared to pre-ash levels.
Citrix' GoToMeeting web-conferencing service traffic has doubled compared to pre-ash levels.
Now a week into the widespread air traffic bans, and with millions of dollars estimated lost daily -- the U.S. Travel Association estimates $130 million daily in travel, hotel and tourism industries -- the video and web conferencing industry is booming. Even the emergency meeting by various European transport ministers was held via video conference on Monday.

Citrix' GoToMeeting web-conferencing service reported that its traffic has doubled this week compared to the week before the ash began shutting down travel. Cisco has also noted big increases in online web and video conferencing use.

"While the Icelandic ash grounds the planes, we're also seeing a huge spike in demand for some cloud-based collaboration tools such as Webex and TelePresence, all the while increasing the load on the internet," wrote Simon Aspinell, senior director-service provider marketing responsible for SP Data Center and Mobility in Cisco, in a blog post Monday noting that some of Cisco's own employees are also stranded and have had meetings canceled.

Logitech, too, has seen a spike in business -- its Vid service saw a "significant spike" in video calls on Saturday compared to previous Saturdays, particularly in England and France. And so Logitech decided to use the ash cloud as a marketing opportunity. On its blog, the company is asking people to send in their stories about "how you used (or are planning to use) video calling as your back-up plan." The company is offering the top three submissions $100 American Express gift cards. (Contest ends at midnight Wednesday.)

Citrix also used the volcanic ash to advocate what it has dubbed "work shifting," or the ability to work securely and affordably from remote locations. Brett Caine, general manager of Citrix Online, said in a news release, "In extreme circumstances such as the volcanic ash disruption, these tools allow people to be fully operational no matter where they are. But it's also a reminder that businesses need to be prepared with the tools to be productive at a moment's notice, as it's impossible to predict when the next disruption will occur."

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