This article is the third in a series about how to get started with Zoom in an enterprise environment. This includes understanding Zoom Licensing & Enterprise pricing.
Zoom’s product is sold in the classic software/cloud, as a service model. Fundamentally this service is based and consumed primarily at the user level. This means that you will need to buy a license for each user that will use Zoom. Just like a mobile service plan, Zoom offers both a number of premium add-ons to enhance the standard user license. Of course these add-on’s are combined into a bundle with the core user license when buying licensing at scale as well. The Zoom Room license can be thought of just like a user license, where each room needs its own license and potential add-ons. Zoom also has additional account level based licenses that are only applied globally at the account level. This additional level can be used for global features as well as professional services you can purchase. In order for you to get all enterprise management, SSO, and branding features, you need to have at least 10 user licenses on the account.
Zoom User Licensing
The great news about Zoom is that there is really only one type of license for a user. Which as of today is called a “Licensed User” (formally called “Pro)”. This user license gives you all the capabilities of hosting standard meetings up to 100 people with the base user license, and expands depending on bundles you are in. What is the “On-Prem” user license? A On-Prem user license (formerly called “Corp”) is the same as a standard user expect for that all meetings are hosted on-premises inside your company running on your own hardware using Zoom provided virtual machine Multimedia Router (MMR) servers. This is only for customers that have strict business requirements around keeping communication traffic on their own internal network (this only applies for meetings). The free license is called “Basic” and has the limitations that If three or more participants join, the meeting will time out after 40 minutes.
On top of the core user license, Zoom currently offers three distinct add-on’s for a user: Webinar, Large Meeting and Zoom Phone. These features can be enabled via provisioning of the user as well.
Large Meeting – Increase the maximum number of participants in a meeting – A user can only have one of these assigned once.
Zoom Phone – Cloud PBX Phone System
This product is licensed to be able to make and receive external calls. If a user only needs to make internal calls, there is no charge for Zoom Phone. The calling plan for the user or common area phone/analog needs to be picked based on where the telephone number is located. Meaning if a user wants a phone number in the USA and the UK, they will need two different calling plans with Zoom. If all your phone numbers are routed via your own ‘BYOP’ SIP Trunking, then you only need a single calling plan for each user.
Metered Calling Plan – Includes a single DID for the user. All calling will be charged per minute based on your account rate plan /bucket of minutes.
Unlimited Calling National + Metered International – Includes a single DID for the user. All national calling for the user will be unlimited from where the user is based, International calling is based on your account rate plan
BYOP – ‘Bring Your Own Phone’ – Which means Bring your own SIP trunk (via internet or direct peering via internet). This allows you to send PSTN calls via your own infrastructure.
BYOC – ‘Bring Your Own Carrier’ – Pay for you plan via your Carrier SIP Trunk (usually purchased in the channel. The idea is for a large company that has existing contracts, you can continue to use them for calling, and zoom will peer with them on the phone company side.
Zoom Room Licensing
Zoom Rooms – Licensed based on the type of functionality you need for a room. A room can also be enabled with a Zoom Phone number to make outbound/inbound phone calls using the same calling plans purchased for users.
Zoom Room – The Primary paid Zoom Room Software License.
Scheduling Display Only – ‘Basic’ free Room Scheduler display only. For spaces that need to be booked, but don’t have a Zoom Room inside.
Digital Signage Only – ‘Basic’ free digital signage display.
What about Zoom Room meeting capacity? For meeting started from a Zoom Room, the number of participants the meeting can hold uses the Meeting Capacity account level setting. You can see this number under Account Profile section of Account Settings. You can also license a Zoom Room with a large meeting add-on plan, individually.
The great thing about Zoom is the more you buy, the more value you get . The only exception to this rule is that if a company has less than 10 user Zoom licenses, you do you not get any advanced admin/sso/branding features, and is not considered enterprise.
The bundles names really do not matter technically. In practice what Zoom bundle you buy is just a SKU bundle at different price points containing a bundle of a user licenses & add-on’s. Meaning you do not get 50 ‘business’ user licenses then 600 ‘enterprise’ user licenses, instead you will just have 650 total user licenses. With 600 ‘500 participant Large Meeting & 600 ‘500 participant Webinar’ add-ons. The good news is picking which bundle will get you the best deal is your account manger’s problem. What you really should focus on is caring about is what features you want for your users. With any bundle licenses, when you actually go to provision users, you will need to provision the add-on as part of the enabling process as well.
Zoom Account Licensing and Additional Options
Along with named user/room licenses, Zoom also offers a number of features that are purchased at the account level. Account level licenses are features that are not directly tied to an individual user. These licenses we don’t have to worry about provisioning via SSO as you can’t assign them directly to a named user. I have also included some of the professional services that Zoom offers as well.
Enhanced Zoom Meeting Audio Conferencing Options enabled at the account level
Toll Free (all users)
Premium International and dial-out options.
Dedicated Dial-in Number – A dedicated dial-in number lets your attendees join the audio conference without entering a meeting ID. Priced per number/Meeting ID.
SIP Connected Audio – SIP Trunking so you can bring your own conference numbers.
Cloud Recording Storage – Expand the size of your stage for recordings.
100+ GB with $1.5 per GB extra
500+ GB with $0.5 per GB extra
3+ TB with $0.1 per GB extra
PSO – Meeting Event Services – Zoom Offers Operator & Events support services that will help you in your large events for a per event fee.
H.323/SIP Connector – Enabled on a per concurrent call port basis Interoperability using H.323/SIP. This is to enable and using legacy equipment from Polycom/Cisco/Lifesize the ability to dial into the meeting.
PSO – Design, Consulting, and Install of certified Zoom Room Equipment. Zoom will help you get setup with Zoom Rooms using their template designs.
PSO – Managed Services – Zoom is beginning to offer Managed services that will proactively monitor rooms and maintain your zoom room footprint remotely (must be using template designs)
Common Area Phones / Analog Gateway licensing.
Additional DID’s – Every Zoom Phone user license included a DID, however if you need more you can request them.
Telephone Minute Packs – Zoom offers bundles of minutes or per minute rates depending on usage.
Direct Connection Phone – SIP Trunking over private networking for Zoom Phone connections. Note this will always use public IP Addresses. This requires a real network team that knows things like BGP and can use ECX or setup cross connects to get connected.
PSO – Zoom Phone – Zoom will help you migrate from your existing PBX via Professional Services.
Zoom for Telehealth – Custom skills based routing software for telemedicine use.
Direct Connection Meetings – The ability to directly peer with Zoom to have 100% QOS to Zoom Meetings. This requires a real network team that knows things like BGP and can use ECX or setup cross connects to get connected.
Training – Zoom offers In-Person and remote training for your user base.
Zoom does not advertise its real enterprise prices on their website. As with all enterprise software, where there is mystery, there is margin. This brings us to one of my favorite quotes from a top voice in the business:
The great news is that Zoom is now certified for government use, and you can easily google their GSA Pricelist for Zoom by searching for their contract number: GS-35F-0578Y or GS-35F-303DA + Zoom + .PDF. This will give you a great idea on how Zoom structures their pricing and where to start negotiations for volume licensing.
A few notes on pricing for Enterprise
Do your total cost analysis on a per user basis either per month, or per year.
Zoom Room pricing will be the same monthly price as your user license for large enterprise.
Make sure you bust chops on DID pricing as they are crazy to charge more than 50 cents per extra DID a month for Zoom Phone.
You are a high profile customer when you are negotiating for 100K+ a month contract from what I hear. They also like more than 100k yearly customers as that is what they put on their SEC fillings. Not a big as the 100k MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) tier but still important to the sales team.
This article is the second in a series about how to get started with Zoom in an enterprise environment. This includes getting the initial account setup and verified for enterprise use.
Zoom as a service is structured so that users can get started with Zoom easily. This is to the chagrin of the enterprise IT overlords that want to control everything. As anyone by default can go ‘rogue’ and can start individual subscription or sign up a subgroup of users without any barriers to entry. The good news is that with Zoom, you can setup an enterprise account where you centrally manage all users and prevent this from happening moving forward. What is the technical barrier line in the sand for being an enterprise account? An account is considered an enterprise account with full features when you have 10 or more active user licenses on the account.
Please be aware that a User License is is the same between the Pro, Business, Enterprise, and Education accounts. This includes any trial licensing you get from your amazing account manager, which is always a minimum of 10. The only difference between the tiers advertised on zoom.us/pricing is the bundled Add-Ons that you get included when you scale up your user count. Again just like Office 365, you are technically buying a license bundle that includes add-ons when you buy in bulk. More on this in the next article in the series.
The way Zoom verifies that you are in fact the administrator of the enterprise account is just like with Office 365 or GSuite. Where you need to ‘claim’ your domains names in order to verify you are in fact the enterprise manager for your company. This claiming is of domains via done via DNS TXT records. Once you do this, you then have the ability to merge in all of your rogue users into the master enterprise account. Don’t forget to make sure you have the required user licenses before starting this process. By default any basic/non-paid account will be merged in automatically once you claim your domains. Merging any paid rogue users can happen in three ways:
Have your Zoom CSM merge the accounts into your master account for you.
Setup Single Sign On – The users will automatically be moved over to your master account once you turn on force users to sign in with SSO.
Email Invite – You can invite other paid users into your account. However they can choose to ignore your request.
After claiming your domains you need to apply for a Vanity URL subdomain from Zoom to be able to setup SSO, branding pages, and other enterprise features. Lastly there are a number of features which are not enabled by default in the account, but can only enabled by your account manager/CSM submitting a ticket to enable the ‘OP Flags’ you need on your account.
Step 1 – Sign Up for a Zoom Account and Get Initial Licensing
It’s simple. Sign Up for Zoom account via the Zoom website. Ideally this should be a service account email address, however you can sign up with any email address initially. The master account can easily be changed later in the account profile page.
Confirm your email address.
Upgrade your account to the enterprise account level. In technical terms, you need to have an account with a minimum of 10 licensed users. Note this used to be called ‘Pro’ users up until a few weeks ago. Until you are on that account level, you will not have the ability to complete the Enterprise SSO/Vanity URL Setup. The options are to work with the Zoom Sales team to start a relationship to get some trial licenses or throw down a credit card immediately if you need to get started asap.
Once your account has licensing, the Account Profile page will expand from very limited information to a page where you can configure the details.
Similar to most cloud services, you need to be able to prove that in fact you are an administrator of the domains you own. You do this by adding some public DNS Records to validate ownership.
Loginas an administrator to the Zoom Portal
Navigate toAccount Profile
Under Managed DomainsClick Add
The Add Managed Domains will pop up. Enter the domain names you want to control.
You will now be able to verify each domain you added by clicking on Verify Domain.
You will be prompted to verify your domain. There are four options, however DNS verification is by far the quickest and easiest. Select Add TXT Record, and Click Next.
You will be prompted to add at TXT DNS Record to your domain.
Open a new tab in your browser and login to your dns provider (this example uses Hover) and add the record by copy pasting the text in as new txt recordon your domain.
Once added, click verify domain and it should validate within an hour (the time it takes for dns to typically replicate).
Repeat for the rest of the domains you want to manage.
Once you have successfully verified the domains, all free accounts are automatically converted over to the master account. Any existing paid accounts will be moved over when you enable SSO or work with your Zoom Account Team. You can click on the “View Domain Users Summary” to see both account users, and the existing ‘rogue; users.
The vanity URL Subdomain.zoom.us is used for two major features in Zoom: SSO and Branding. You need to pick a name that will be used for the long term as it will be almost impossible to change later. Please be aware that this domain will become the URL basis for all the meeting invites moving forward. If you see the company changing names in the future. I would recommend picking a vanity url that is generic if you can find something that works. Just be sure to talk to your account manager as it will require approvals. It typically takes a business day to process your Vanity URL request.
Login as an administrator to the Zoom Portal
Navigate to Account Profile
Under Vanity URL type in a subdomain you want to use and ClickSubmit. In my example I used ‘soaklabs’.
Zoom has a number of ‘hidden’ features they can set on account level in the back end ‘OP System’. Some of these are restrictions to the service that can only be lifted with a large contract. So your milage will vary with getting approvals for these features. As of the beginning of 2020, if you want to the following features, please work with your account manger/file a support ticket to get enabled on on the back end (my unofficial list):
Simultaneous Concurrent Desktop Logins
The ability to stay logged in on multiple computers at the same time with the same user account in the Zoom client.
This is now on by default for enterprise accounts, but needs to be processed manually.
1080P Glorious Video! Please be aware that 1080P requires up to 10-15 megabits of upload for the user who is sending video and content at the same time. Which is in line with sending two streams at Netflix Quality Standards.
Currently not supported by CRC but coming soon. And yes the video quality is that good.
Account owners and admins can create a shared global directory by importing contacts using a CSV file. The shared global directory is accessible by phone users using the Zoom desktop client or mobile app.
This article is the first in a series about how to get started with Zoom in an enterprise environment. Including the enterprise relationship, Zoom’s sales team, and how Zoom develops its product.
Preamble – Working in Today’s Cloud Ecosystem
Unlike the old school days of when everything was just a box in your server room. Working with cloud services requires a fundamentally different approach to managing technology. There is no ‘internal’ data center that you own everything end-to-end by default. Where you just spin it up the new server, join the domain/LDAP, and install the software. To give perceptive, every assumption & procedure in that last sentence is totally different for cloud services. Let me explain.
Spinning Up the Server
This is the one that everyone loves about cloud services. Not having to manage hardware! WOOHOO! Let the cloud providers negotiate with AWS, Azure, and GCP. Just hope they don’t put their eggs just in just a single basket. Chaos Monkey for the win! However there is another side to this coin. Your application is now not on your prestigious internal network, or in your micron rated filtered data center. This means there is not a usually built-in security advantage or optimized internal packet flow. The way you approach the security of your company data is going to be different. Because you are now no longer owning everything. You now need to create relationships with the companies with the app’s you are consuming. To make sure they actually have proper security practices. Not to mention being properly audited by Infosec Swift’s loyal followers.
Join the Domain
Since this server was on the network. In more cases than not, it was a windows box that was joined to the domain. This means you already had access to a gaggle of tools around access controls, management, and communication options. When working with cloud services today, you need to bring your directory to the cloud. Thankfully there are SAML/SCIM based services like OKTA, and Azure AD it makes this possible, and can be pretty straightforward to do. More on this in another article.
Installing the Software
The most advertised feature of the cloud is not having to manage the day to day operations of the application. It’s always online and up to date. The downside is that you are now signing up to get on a train that never stops, and it will constantly move forward. You don’t get to control when new features come out, setting your own downtime, or owning your upgrade windows. Meaning you now need to subscribe to all of the support notifications by the app host to see when they are breaking things. You are now forced to commit time on your calendar for application lifecycle management. Instead of this always being on your own time terms.
Most importantly above anything else, your relationship with the application vendor has now fundamentally changed. You are now paying them every month or yearly for a piece of software. If you don’t pay… they will cut you off instantly. Your leverage of being able to say, no we are not spending a single more penny until X,Y, or Z feature is developed or fixed is now far more complicated. You now have a relationship more akin to your telecom provider. Where you are now are thinking about your lifecycle around contract terms, and having to build in six months of overlap if you want to switch away. But with the additional problem of these services are usually not commodities.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Ben Thompson & James Alworth on the Exponent 159 Podcast where they talk about this re-arrangement of the value chain in the context of MongoDB and Microsoft. It’s amazing that you now only have to worry about the application itself, and not all the infrastructure bits behind it. However you are now a partner with the service. This means you are not just a consumer of software/hardware on your own terms. You now are apart of their service. Always understand that. You need to clearly understand your provider’s motivations, incentives, and business model to make sure you are not going to be blind sighted in the future. I recommend listening to Scott Galloway’s advice of that you should always read a company’s IPO’s S-1 (If recent) and public company’s routine SEC filings for the real picture of a company. In Zoom’s case a lot of what I say below about their engineering team is clearly and only disclosed in their SEC filings.
Starting a Enterprise Relationship with Zoom
My favorite part of cloud services is that there is practically zero marginal cost for the cloud providers get you setup in their service. Chances are you already have users already consuming Zoom and expensing it to get their job done. With Zoom, if you are a business that wants to enable Zoom for more than 50 users, you will always need talk to their sales team to get started. This is for your benefit, believe me. Not unique to Zoom, working with the sales team is your key relationship you want to support and foster with your technology providers.
Pricing! – Good pricing is obtained by negotiating with your account manager. Like everything else you buy in bulk. Pricing goes down the more you buy. Everybody wins!
Free Trial – If you want to kick the tires. Zoom will pretty much always give you the time to do a proper evaluation of all features before your buy.
Lab Accounts – Always get a lab environment if you are supporting more than 1000 users. Zoom will not have an issue with it. Rather it’s the opposite. Zoom will be very thankful as this is where you can reproduce issues with them without it hurting. This matters even more when you have multiple integration points into Zoom.
Feature Requests – All major feature requests and communicated via the account team (via JIRA ID’s), and it matters a lot.
Beta Program Access – This is how you get signed up for beta programs to get ahead of the game. This also gives a more direct link to the product development team. This enables you to give feedback more directly in the time that matters most.
Support Escalations – A great account manager knows all the key people in the company and will move mountains to get your needs met.
Free Swag! – We all know that swag can be considered currency in some places. Or more importantly if anyone has any Theranos Merch, please contact Christina Warren ASAP!
Customer Advisory Council Access – If you are in the fortunate enough to be considered for it. The CAC is where existing group of select customers convene on a regular basis to advise the company on industry trends, business priorities and strategic direction. This gives you access to long term strategy under NDA, and enables you to help make the product better.
Always a good suggestion is to use the additional information text box to convey some key information. This will make the process better and more importantly more efficient for you. The initial person that looks at this is typically in the inside sales team which is typically the most junior people in the sales team. It’s best to make their lives easier by giving them some initial information:
What you are using now to solve your real time communications needs and what you are looking for in a product?
Give an overview of you company and what it does in a few sentences – This is to route you to the right account team quicker.
How many users you plan on enabling?
Why you are looking at Zoom?
Tell them you were referred by SoakLabs 🙂
After getting the relationship started by submitting the form. You can then move ahead getting started with the initial enterprise account setup. You can either do this by getting acquiring trial licensing on the account so that you can try out the various features for a period of time via sales. Or you can just lay down a credit card as well, but you will still need help from them getting the enterprise features setup. The next article will be on this.
Zoom’s Enterprise Sales Team
Like pretty much all technology companies, Zoom has a fully staffed sales and support team to help you in using their product. In fact this whole team makes up the majority of the people working at Zoom today. Understanding how enterprise sales works will help immensely. The people you will work changes depending on where in journey you are with Zoom. This journey is divided into two parts: Pre-Sales & Post Sales.
Pre-Sales is the time before you sign and purchase the large contract. This is the time where you evaluate the product, get internal stakeholder/executive approvals, start a proof of concept, perform the security assessment, and really kick the tires of the product.
Post-Sales is the time after you sign the contract to use Zoom. This is the time Zoom will support you in implementing the product, supporting the cutover process, helping technically, support/features escalation, and training. Again please note if you are not a large customer. You may only get a subset of these resources described in this article.
Inside Sales Representative/Operations – This is the person that will first look at your sales request you submitted using the link above. They will typically reach out promptly to have a quick 30 minute Zoom meeting with you to talk about the five questions I highlighted above. Their job is to connect you with the right Account Manager based on your size, company vertical, and location.
Account Manager(AM) – Owns the Zoom relationship with you. Is the primary person you interface for negotiating the contract, additional licensing, getting resources, and everything in the previous section. They are responsible and on the hook for facilitating and maintaining a successful relationship with you. They are in it for the long term. This person will make or break your relationship with Zoom. The great ones are hard to find. If you are not getting a good experience with your Account Manger, please make sure to reach out to a Zoom Executive if the relationship is not there. In Pre-Sales, the account manger will have you work with their sales engineer for all things related to Zoom. In Post-Sales, the AM will transition you to work with your CSM. Just remember at the end of the day your AM is still a sales person at heart, and still works on commission (Based what I read in their 10-Q, the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) number or what a customer pays monthly for Zoom is the key sales metric).
Sales Engineer – Mainly a Pre-Sales role, the SE goal is to technically inform you about Zoom, answer any general questions, and guide you through the process of getting setup with Zoom usually in the proof of concept phase. They are your point person in pre-sales for all technical/usability questions.
Zoom Executives – If you need to facilitate meetings with your executive team and have a need to talk in CIO platitudes or just to have executive level discussions, Zoom can provide that. Just make sure you get a fancy acrylic business card from Zoom’s CIO to complete the experience.
Solutions Architect – These are your technical experts you can work with on serious technical designs or features that your SE or CSM can’t answer. Each architect typically focuses on different areas of the product. This means you will usually work with a few. They are also you conduit into product management for feature requests and issues
Customer Solutions Manager (CSM) – Your trusted advisor and account operational lead post sales. This person is assigned to your account once your sign a contract. They become your go to person for all operational tasks including on-boarding, deployment, facilitating meetings with experts, feature requests, support escalations, and more. They will also help with training and coordinate training resources.
Professional Services Organization – The PSO team can also be engaged for more high touch engagements. This includes Webinar & Large Meeting ‘Operator’ Production Support, Zoom Rooms Conference Room Install (Remote, Assist, or a Full A/V install), Zoom Phone Cutover, and they are now getting into Managed Services around Zoom Rooms as well.
Support – Zoom’s support team is great for the end user and level 1 and 2 questions. However for any technical issue that cannot be resolved in a self service manner or bug that is an engineering issue – You need to submit a support case and then escalate via your CSM. More on this in another article. However Zoom is currently working this year to improve their Tier 3 ‘ Microsoft Premier’ type support offerings (I hope).
Zoom’s development takes place in two major places. At their offices in San Jose, California, and in multiple offices in China. Internally Zoom is really organized into two very specific company silos: Sales/Support/Operations and Engineering. This is not a unique to Zoom. However there is a very big divide where the engineering teams are kept intentionally in their lane to stay the most productive. Zoom has three distinct ways to connect engineering into the company: Through Eric & the executive team, their product managers, and JIRA. That’s it. Understanding how Zoom operates is critical for any feature request, support issue, or production change that you need. As if you do not navigate this process the right way, your request will die with the account team, or with support.
Zoom has a worldwide workforce. Their engineering team is divided between multiple very different time zones. For Zoom to get work done, they use a system called JIRA. Now what is JIRA? Well at its core, JIRA is a system that tracks and manages work. Zoom uses JIRA for at least three distinct things: feature development, change management, and bug tracking. This means aside from the executive team where I am sure everything is done via side deck; all work is started, assigned, and tracked via JIRA. The product managers use it to create new JIRA ‘issue’ tickets describing a feature in detail that needs to be developed. This is sometimes called a user story. This ticket might be broken down by engineering into specific engineering chunks of work to get done. When a product release happens, a bunch ‘issues’ are combined into project that is then committed and released. The operations team uses JIRA in the exact same way. If you need a SIP Trunk setup. Your SE will submit a JIRA request with the details, and the work will be completed. Lastly it’s the same way with support. If your support issue cannot be resolved by anything a customer has access already via the website/API/configuration plus a little more. Support will also submit a JIRA ticket for the issue into engineering to be looked at.
To sum up my point here…. If your engineering feature request, change management, or reproducible bug does not have a JIRA issue ID. IT DOES NOT EXIST. Also support tickets (Zendesk) are NOT JIRA Issues. Yes there is a link between the two systems, however they are separate.
Who has access to JIRA that you can talk to? You CSM, SE, SA, and some senior support people. That’s it. Account managers do NOT have access to JIRA. In practice it’s your CSM’s job to track all of your JIRA related issues for you. That is what separates the best CSM’s from all the others. They know that they need to be experts in JIRA (& Zendesk) to both find information, and to get things done. For a large customer who has 1000’s of seats for Zoom, it’s typical to have dozens of issues being tracked by your CSM. Or if you are me it’s more like 100’s. Sorry Mike!
How Do I Submit Feature Requests/Bugs/Changes?
Feature Requests – First work with your SE/SA/CSM to make sure you understand both your needs and how it fits into Zoom. The closer you match Zoom’s though process the better. Second once a feature is identified it needs to be explained into a user story and justified with the jobs to be done framework. Finally once all the information is assembled your CSM/SE/SA will create a JIRA issue (or duplicate, or add on to an existing issue) for your request. Make sure you get the ZOOM-XXXX JIRA ID.
Change Management – Any backend changes that need to be done for your account will usually be processed by your CSM/SE. They will usually have a form that needs to be filled out and then submitted into JIRA.
Problem or Bug – For any support case, first you need to engage support. You need to clearly reproduce the issue in production for support to to escalate to a senior person for them to create a JIRA Issue. Please note that Zoom is running into the same issue that Microsoft has. Their support team is great for level 1/2 issues. However once it reaches a certain point and need to escalate to engineering to look at. The issue can and does get lost in the mix. Especially if the issue is not service impacting in a major way. This is how I think Zoom’s major security bug in the news was lost in the mix last year. If your issue becomes a JIRA ticket. You will need to ask for it the JIRA ID and then escalate and track with your CSM so that it actually gets looked at and prioritized. The bad news is that support will not be of any help in this scenario right now (Prove me wrong Zoom!). As the support team metrics for success are not setup for tracking cases that get passed too JIRA. In fact they have every incentive too close or to put those cases in a special category like ‘hold’ as it will breach SLA’s otherwise.
Zoom Product Management
Studying Zoom’s product management takes a large amount of kremlinology. Yes I know who is number one at Zoom. It’s says as much in the SEC 10-Q report every quarter:
“Our success depends in a large part upon the continued service of key members of our senior management team. In particular, our founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Eric S. Yuan, is critical to our overall management, as well as the continued development of our products, services, the Zoom platform, our culture, our strategic direction, engineering, and our operations in China. All of our executive officers are at-will employees, and we do not maintain any key person life insurance policies. The loss of any member of our senior management team would harm our business.”
Zoom SEC Report 10-Q Q3 2019
However figuring out product direction is a very much more complicated process. Yes, Oded Gal is the Chief Product Officer, and yes he has assembled an amazing team of product managers including Nitasha Walia, Cyntina Lee,Jeff Smith, Vi Chau, Abhishek Balaji, Mila Krivoruchko, and many more. All of these people are amazing don’t get me wrong. It is also the number one reason to go to Zoomtopia every year is to talk with them, and the engineers that come as well. Well aside from watching Janine Pelosi working magic. Such a brilliant marketer. However the real mystery is how those requirements get translated and approved by engineering? As all of these product managers are in San Jose, and there are over 700 engineers or a lot of the entire engineering team that does not reside there. How features and bugs get prioritized is complicated to say the least. Moreover knowing where the product is really going is probably the biggest mystery of them all.
Side Note: There is a great now defunct podcast series that was made called Debug by Renee Ritchie and Guy English. They had a great run of shows with two former product managers at Apple from a few years ago. It’s a great series. If you only listen to one, listen to Debug 76: Melton & Ganatra episode IV: Management – This episode is gold around managing from two very successful now former managers at Apple. Don Melton, former Director of Internet Technologies (creator of Safari and WebKit) at Apple, and Nitin Ganatra, former Director of iOS Apps at Apple, talk about managing teams, managing up, retention, rivalry, and more!
Now being a product manager is probably one of the hardest jobs there is. As you are fundamentally steering a ship of people with little guidance, into the unknown. There is a very big reason why Apple forced most of their engineers to move to Silicon Valley for decades. It’s because managing people is very hard. Yes obviously that Zoom uses the tools its created to breakdown geographic barriers. However going back to the analogy of kremlinology, Zoom is a mystery of what incentives are actually the ones that matter in how engineering works on the product.
In conclusion, my only advice is the one in the previous section. Make sure you have a JIRA issue ID. If you don’t, the request does not exist. Also make sure your friends and peers at other companies duplicate those JIRA’s issues. Just like at Apple, when they say file a Radar. It’s the best visibility the development team has on what is really happening out there in the real world.
Updated Zoom Client
The client is now more modern, sleek, and frictionless. New Chat features include channels, personal channel, starred messages, and contacts.
Chat Groups Renamed Channels
Chat groups have been renamed channels.
1080p Support for Video Sharing Full High Definition video, 1080p, can now be sent and received.This feature is limited availability. For business plan customers who would like to be considered for this feature, please contact Zoom Support.
Soaklabs Note: More on this in another blogpost. But the short news is you can do 1080p30 for both video and content!
Audio Watermark If an attendee records the meeting, their personal information can now be embedded in the audio as an inaudible watermark. This option requires enabling “Only signed-in users can join the meeting” or “Only signed-in users with specified domains can join meetings”. You activate the feature on a scheduled per meeting basis. This is only if the Audio Watermark feature is not ‘locked on’ at the account settings level.
Screen Sharing Enhancements
Ability to Stop a Participant’s Share The host can now stop a participant’s screen share by going to the Participant List and selecting More next to the sharing participant’s name.
Improvements for Direct Share While direct sharing to a Zoom Room, the green screen share indicator bar will now automatically hide when the mouse is not moving and reappear when the mouse moves.
Indicator that a Participant is Annotating The host can now identify which participants are annotating by viewing the participants list. The participants who are annotating will have an indicator in the color they are using to annotate.
Support for Multiple Pages on Whiteboard Hosts can now enable multiple pages for whiteboard. If enabled, they can create new pages, close pages, and navigate between multiple pages.
Enhanced Annotation Tools
Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin Hosts can now allow meeting participants and webinar panelists to rejoin after they have been removed. This feature needs to be enabled on the web under Meeting, Group, or Account Settings.
Improvements to the Raise Hand Feature The raise hand feature will now prompt users to link their audio if necessary to make it easier to speak in the meeting.
Support for Scheduling a Meeting or Webinar as Public Hosts can now schedule a meeting as public through the Zoom client to share it on the calendar of public events.
Virtual Background without a Green Screen Users can now use virtual background without a physical green screen. This feature requires an i7 or higher processor.
Improvements for Searching the Participants List Users can now search the participants list with a partial string, instead of needing to enter the participant’s full name to search.
Keypad for H.323 Calls Users who dial out to an H.323 device will now have a keypad available for the duration of the call to enter DTMF tones for the H.323 device.
Additional Mass Configuration Option When installing and configuring Zoom through MSI or group policy on Windows, or with a pre-configured plist file on a Mac, the IT admin can now enable the option EnableMirrorEffect to mirror the shared video
Warning When Scheduling a Meeting Longer than 40 minutes
Basic users will now be warned if they schedule a meeting longer than 40 minutes through the Zoom client or mobile app.
Breakout Room Enhancements
Set a Timer for Breakout Rooms
Hosts can now set a timer for breakout rooms. Once the configured time has passed, the breakout rooms will automatically close and users will be returned to the main session. Hosts can also choose to be notified when the time ends.
Ability to Force Participants into Breakout Rooms
The hosts can now force participants to join the breakout rooms from the main session.
Ability to Disable Returning to the Main Session
The host can now prevent participants from returning to the main session from the breakout room. They will return to the main session when the host closes the breakout rooms manually or the set time expires.
Multiple Screen Support for Remote Support Sessions
When the host requests control of another participant’s screen via Remote Support Session, they can now select which screen they would like to control if the participant is using multiple screens.
Personal Space for Note Taking
Write messages to yourself to take notes and save links within the Zoom chat window.
Star Individual Messages
Star individual messages, making them easily accessible to revisit them later.
-Star Contacts and Chat Channels
Show All Calendar Events
Users who have configured the calendar integration will now see all events on their calendar, including events that do not have a Zoom meeting attached.
To say Zoom is doing things a little differently is an understatement. This story really starts on day two of the conference with Eric Yuan opening the keynote, which set the tone for the entire event. In the 16 minutes he talked on stage (not including any videos), Eric talked about the things you typically see from any yearly update. Such as how Zoom is growing exponentially, posting some big numbers, and pulling out the Gartner business 101 quadrant chart that everyone loves quoting when it goes their way. Don’t get me wrong, it was all good stuff and some great achievements to brag about, however this was only the opening for what he talked about next.
He started by teasing the announcements of new features in Zoom Rooms, the new UX, the app marketplace, and of course Zoom Voice. I spent months seriously evaluating Zoom myself, and filing dozens and dozens of bugs and feature requests. I spent a great amount of time really thinking about if this is a viable unified communications platform an enterprise could move to. What Eric Yuan said in those next three and a half minutes changed my entire perspective of the company, and caused me to really starting thinking that this company can actually do it.
Eric conveyed three very important things, respect, trust, and honesty. It felt like he was channeling the character Mikael Blomkvist from the Stieg Larsson Millennium Series. A favorite scene of mine was when Mikeal was talking towards the end of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” out on the dock with Lisbeth reflecting and discussing about how to define friendship. Simon Vance narrates this wonderfully in the audiobook version.
In Eric’s case he talked about what it means to collaborate with people, and how it can either to make or break a culture. He communicated why Zoom as a company is thinking about how to solve this problem, the right way. He respects everyone who works at Zoom and the people that use the service. Eric and the executive team listen to their customers, from simply emailing a person back, to following them on Twitter. Or even just hanging out in the expo area for hours talking with the community, as I saw him and others on the executive team do throughout the conference. There is no gloss, no marketing mumbo jumbo in the way that Zoom respects their users.
As for trust, Zoom has built it very simply by making a rock solid service that just works. Oded Gal made a beautiful ‘just works’ slide later in the keynote. People don’t care about specs and toys. People care about the jobs to be done, this is what they hire a collaboration service for. Which at the end of the day is actually just connecting people together. Giving them the tools to collaborate on what they need to accomplish. Zoom trusts that you know what your use cases are, and how to roll out technology on your terms. They will not try to control and force you to conform to hardware isolating workflows because they think is better.
Lastly Eric talked with such honestly about what kind of company Zoom is. They see how valuable visual communication is, so that you can see those non verbal queues in people. It is important to them to have a platform that is flexible for a company of any size. No company is perfect, and in my opinion Zoom still very much acts as a startup. However what Eric said in those three and a half minutes, is that this company is humble enough to know that they need to collaborate with the people that use their platform to make their service better.
Zoom Announced that they will be entering the cloud hosted voice market, with full PSTN connectivity. Zoom talked about how the market as they view it today, is a complicated and confusing set of either on-premise or singe use case cloud based products. What Zoom is looking to do is to make, “one consistent communication solution” that will be a single platform for a person to communicate on.
Please see the slides from the UC ecosystems keynote for a better view of their perspective of the market:
Calling features that will be included:
Local and International DID’s
Call blocking – Initially at a company level, and possibly using AI in the future
E911 support – Initially with static address mapping per device/DID
Auto Attendant – Time of day based IVR and routing
Call Queues – Which you can setup hunt groups of users with different routing options
Device support and Provisioning for OpenSip Phones like Polycom, and Yealink
Common Area Phones
How the service will be packaged is not final yet, but here is what Zoom is thinking as of today:
The Zoom Voice Service is based on named licensed Zoom Users. The PBX functionality is automatically included for all internal calling within Zoom.
If you want to enabled a user for Zoom Voice, you have three basic options for the user:
Choose a Zoom Voice Plan – A usage based plan or bundled of minutes plan, enabled per user (including a DID).
Bring your own voice Service directly from a phone company – you can setup a SIP Trunk directly from your phone company and use your existing contract.
Bring your own SIP Trunk – Via the internet or via private link into Zoom. Route calls into zoom via a supported SBC (I assume AudioCodes, Ribbon, and a few others).
As for pricing, nothing has been announced just yet.
Zoom has said the following so far:
If you want outside connectively, you can either choose a Zoom plan, or there will be a per user nominal fee to use an external SIP trunk either via your own or via a carrier.
Additional Add-Ons will be thing like:
Blocks of Minutes
Toll Free Numbers
Common Area Phones
As for the Roadmap of when this product will be available:
Zoom is targeting the first half of 2019 for general availability of Zoom Voice, with rolling out to additional countries throughout the year.
During the session there were a number of questions asked:
Are you doing contact center?No, not right now. We are partnering with other cloud contact center providers where you can land a call on us as an endpoint.
Support Fax? Probably no eFax initially other than connecting via an ATA device. However we welcome feedback.
Dial Plan support?They are working on getting it into the initial release, but nothing to announce at this time.
Advanced Routing? They are scoping what required, but nothing to announce at this time.
Other Zoom Announcements
For other announcements please see the official Zoom blog post as they provide a great overview on it:
I like all of the announcements, but here are some of the features I like the most:
Audio Signature – Fingerprinting audio for keeping meetings more confidential
Zoom Rooms – Multi-Share
Zoom Rooms – Enterprise Management
Zoom Rooms – Start on Mobile
The conference as a whole was fantastic. The visual appeal and conference production was very well done. Overall it was a pleasant experience. It was fun to see a lot of familiar faces, and a lot of customers looking at the Zoom platform. I can tell a bunch of us are in the same place with Cisco/Microsoft, and are looking for a fresh approach that we got at this conference.
The only notes I have:
Food was great this year! Keep it up!
The concert at the end was great. The artist was a great pick, and generally a great evening.
Why was the keynote not first thing on day one? It was very weird. Next year hopefully it will be a full two day event as you will need to cover all the voice sessions. Also the keynote sets the stage for sessions with new announcements.
The account manger support and executive sessions I was in were great!
Zoom needs to split the conference sessions into two or three major tracks: a beginner sessions, and advanced product manager announcement sessions and make it clear. As someone who is pretty much an expert on the platform, I wanted to hear what is new, and the context around announcements being made. Not 101 sessions. I would not have guessed that UC Ecosystems was the Zoom Voice talk until I walked into it. Or that Simon Booth would be in the third-party endpoints interop session talking about product.
If you make your wifi network name ‘wickedlyfastwifi’ – Make sure you actually use a real conference wifi vendor that uses Xirrus style high density AP’s, and has proper bandwidth. As wifi was a joke this year.
The guest speaker that tried to reinforce the ‘Trust’ point really should have just been cut out of the keynote. Sorry marketing team it was the only miss of the entire keynote. Eric could have reinforced the point much better for 5-10 minutes at the end of his speech. Then throw it to the product team to reinforce it with the new product introductions. It would have been a million times better.