Not quite a year ago, I posted an article announcing availability of a public-access reporting form for service downtimes by web conferencing vendors. The reporting form and the full raw data file of all reported problems are on the web at www.webinardowntime.com.
I have kept links to the page on my Webinar Success website and on this blog. A few things bear repeating from my initial post when examining the recorded data:
- This is not statistically valid data. It is anecdotal. The only information available is what people choose to report. There is no validation of their entries… the problem may have been on the user’s side rather than the vendor’s.
- Vendors with larger user bases have higher odds of getting reported. More people being affected means a greater chance that a service interruption hits someone while they are trying to use the system. And a greater chance that one of them knows about this form and uses it. So even if WebEx had the same number of downtime situations as a tiny vendor with just a few customers, WebEx is likely to look worse in the database because of the reporting bias.
In looking at the database of entries submitted over the past 11 months, it is no surprise to see that the only vendors listed are the ones with massive market share. As I predicted, the small percentage of total web conferencing users that know about and choose to use this form means only the biggest vendors are likely to get “turned in.” It certainly does not mean that smaller web conferencing services never have downtimes!
But a quick scan of the data shows a disproportionate number of entries for Citrix GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar. While Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx, and Microsoft Live Meeting only have a few entries each, Citrix got 21 reports of downtime. Why so many more than the others?
I asked the team at Citrix Online if they would like to address the data and give their interpretation. To their credit, even with the ridiculously unscientific nature of the experiment and the small number of data points, they took it seriously and immediately got back to me. I spoke with Cailin Pitcher, the product line director for GoToWebinar.
Cailin offered two observations. The first was that Citrix has put quite a bit of emphasis on encouraging social interaction among their customers. So it is conceivable that Citrix users feel more comfortable and incented to contribute to public forums and data sharing such as this database. That is probably an unprovable hypothesis, but I don’t discount it out of hand.
The other observation is more relevant in my opinion. Cailin told me that Citrix made a major push to extend their integrated telephony offerings towards the latter part of 2010. They added new toll free numbers and extended service through new audioconferencing partnerships. In the process, there were teething pains and customers did experience problems connecting to web meetings via telephone. Citrix recognized the problems and took steps to fix the telephony situation and make audio communications smoother as they rolled into 2011. It is likely that someone experiencing problems hearing audio on a webinar would report it as a service drop, since they could not participate in the web event.
Indeed, looking at the data, we see a cluster of data points all reported between October 2010 and January 2011. So this seems like a definite contributing factor.
I plan to keep the web form and database active and public for anyone to contribute and to see the unedited data at any time. I hope you will help to publicize the existence of the form so that we can capture more data from more users of more products. I will continue to check in from time to time and report on interesting trends.
By the way, I had a request from other vendors and web owners to create an unbranded version of the page without links to the rest of my website. I am happy to comply. If you want to link to the form without any mention of Webinar Success, use this URL:
It has the same functionality as www.webinardowntime.com but avoids any links or branding.