Free Offerings Help Small Businesses Cope with COVID-19

Small businesses are suddenly being forced to support a surge in remote workers in response to the social distancing demands of COVID-19. NordVPN, for one, recently announced a 165 percent spike in the use of its business VPNs worldwide since March 11 alone.

Still, there is some good news: several providers are responding to the demand by introducing free offerings to help companies manage the massive change in their work habits.

Banyan Security today announced free usage of its Zero Trust Remote Access Platform, which provides employees and third parties with remote access to on-premises, hybrid and multi-cloud applications and servers without the need for VPNs. 

“We feel empathy for the many companies and employees who are frustrated with their VPNs and are pleased to offer free usage of our high-performing, scalable solution to keep your company up and running regardless of location,” Banyan Security CEO Jayanth Gummaraju said in a statement.

Last week, Business Warrior announced free access for one year to its Business Warrior tool, a SaaS platform that helps small business owners simplify and prioritize decisions regarding digital marketing, online reputation, website search and social media efforts.

“We’re shifting resources to provide strategic marketing and advertising support that will help small firms survive – and even thrive – in the midst of what is really an unprecedented global event,” Business Warrior CEO and chairman Rhett Doolittle said in a statement.

Also last week, Laplink Software announced the availability of free and significantly discounted versions of its PCmover software for Windows users. The software automatically moves files, settings, user profiles and applications from an old PC to a new one.

“An emergency like COVID-19 leaves everyone with a lot of unknowns, especially in how employees will stay productive when urged to work from home,” Laplink CEO Thomas Koll said in a statement. “We want to remove at least one of those unknowns and provide a trusted tool that will get a new PC set up and working quickly.”

PandaDoc has introduced a new Free eSign plan with support for unlimited document uploads, unlimited eSignatures, and payment processing. “Business leaders have enough problem to solve right now and we believe worrying about how to collect signatures remotely shouldn’t be one of them,” the company stated in a blog post.

Cloudflare is now offering free seats of Cloudflare for Teams for small businesses through September 1, with no commitment required to continue using the product after that time. The free offering includes an optional 30-minute onboarding session with a technical expert.

Okta is now offering its Okta Single Sign-On (SSO) and Okta Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for free, stating, “Any organization that would find value in leveraging the Okta Identity Cloud for remote work during an emergency situation should be able to do so at no cost.”

Cisco is offering Webex for free with unlimited usage and no time restrictions, with support for up to 100 participants. “Additionally, through our partners and the Cisco sales team, we are providing free 90-day licenses to businesses who are not Webex customers in this time of need,” the company stated.

And Google is now offering free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing solution for all G Suite customers, including support for up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.

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