Free tech resources to help Australian IT during the COVID-19 pandemic

Several technology vendors have made software or services available at no cost to help Australian organisations to adapt to a growing work from home reality and keep their businesses running.

COVID-19 coronavirus morphology / network of cells
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To help Australian enterprises continue to run while employees work from home during the new reality brought by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the tech industry has been pitching in with free software and services to current and new customers.

Computerworld Australia has compiled this list of tech help for coping with the COVID-19 crisis. Computerworld US is also tracking help from the tech industry, some of which may apply to Australian organsiations as well.

COVID-19 response management. Low-code developer Appian has created a free COVID-19 response management application for enterprises and government agencies. The app tracks health status, location, travel history and any COVID-19 incident details. Appian also provides assistance for setting up the app.

Security software for healthcare. Cyber security vendor Kaspersky is offering four products free of charge for six months to healthcare companies around the world, including Australia. The products are Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced, Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus, Kaspersky Security for Microsoft Office 365 and Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security (Enterprise Server).

IT monitoring software. Cisco’s AppDynamics has made available critical information for managing the performance of applications, websites and digital services. These include self-service educational materials, trends, data, tips and tutorials surrounding the performance of applications and digital services.

For new customers, AppDynamics is providing free use of its application performance monitoring software through free AppDynamics SaaS licenses available until 15 July. It is also offering free 30-minute 1:1 meetings with technical consultants through 15 July.

Hangouts conferencing for G S Suite customers. Google Cloud has given free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally. This offer includes larger meetings for up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings. The offer is available until 1 July.

Google has also made its premium video meetings product, Google Meet, free for all.

Performance monitoring for relief organisations. To help organisations engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts with a public benefit, New Relic, who provides website and application performance tracking services, is providing free access to its entire New Relic One platform for 90 days. These include organisations focused on direct humanitarian relief, public and private school education delivery and relief coordination efforts.

It will also offer its university content, product documentation and help from staff through its Explorers Hub, the company’s online community.

HR management. People management platform provider Employment Hero is giving all Australian small businesses that have one to 20 employees and aren’t current subscribers access to its Platinum level people management platform for three months for those signing up by 30 April.

Australian businesses will be able to access documents in the cloud, such as policies like a COVID-19 response policy and a work-from-home policy, with auditable digital acknowledgment. It also enables employees to send out messages company-wide, allow employees to submit time sheets electronically, align their teams through OKRs (objectives and key results), and give employees access to discounts at Coles and Woolworths. To access this businesses must create an account and use the promo code ‘EMPOWER’.

Emergency planning support. Business process management software vendor Signavio is offering its Signavio Business Transformation Suite for free for 90 days to help businesses roll out emergency plans and organise operations in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The platform helps businesses prepare a backup plan by identifying needs and performance across business functions and disciplines, where pain points lie, and when an emergency or crisis management plan is required. It provides a single source of information to communicate plans across an organisation and utilises comments and sharing features to put new ideas into action.

IBM Cloud services. IBM is offering a range of services for its existing IBM Cloud customers for 90 days. These include IBM Cloud Virtual Server, file sharing and team collaboration tool IBM Aspera, IBM Security, IBM Video Streaming and IBM Enterprise Video Streaming for up to 20,000 viewer hours or to stream to up to 20,000 authenticated users for one event per week.

IBM is also giving 90 days free access to IBM Sterling, IBM Blueworks Live, IBM Cloud Event Management. IBM Garage is offering free access to all resources on its Enterprise Design Thinking site.

IBM has extended its Watson Assistant for Citizens for no charge for at least 90 days and will assist with initial setup, which can be done in a few days. It can be used online or by phone. La Trobe University is the first organisation in Australia to sign on and deploy the tool. The university is working with the IBM Cloud Garage team to create and deploy a COVID-19 chatbot that will be able to answer frequently asked questions regarding novel coronavirus symptoms, as well as access to state and federal restrictions and information around the status of the university as lockdowns continue across the country. The chatbot will be accessible to all staff, faculty and students.

Workplace by Facebook Advanced Tier. Online team collaboration tool Workplace is providing access to its Advanced Tier free of charge for governments and emergency services in Australia for one year. Workplace Advanced is built to connect entire organisations providing the most popular features with advanced admin controls. It allows organisations to instantly share information, live-stream meetings or announcements, support two-way communication, or use bots to quickly gather feedback from employees.

Remotely  CRM apps. CRM vendor Zoho is offering its integrated suite of 11 apps, Remotely, free of charge for three months. It also launched its Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) giving customers with 25 employees or fewer free access to all applications they currently use for up to three months.

Clipchamp Create Basic. Video-creation platform Clipchamp is offering a one-month free upgrade from customers on Clipchamp Create Basic plan to Creator monthly, Business monthly or Business Platinum monthly. The company is also offering its tool free for 90 days for education providers.

Xi Frame virtual desktop service. Nutanix is offering its cloud-based virtual desktop service Xi Frame, which is accessible via web browsers, for free for 30 days. Within Xi Frame, Nutanix also offers FastTrack for VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), which allows the onboarding of thousands of remote workers.

Avaya Spaces. Avaya is giving free 60-day access to Avaya Spaces, its cloud-based meeting and team collaboration platform accessible from a browser or mobile app with video and voice conferencing, chat and content sharing. The offer, which was initially restricted to education and non-profit organisations, is now available to all businesses.

The company is also offering free 90-day licenses for every Avaya unified communications platform.

Square Online Store. Mobile payment company Square has allowed businesses to create their online store free of change until July. During March, Square refunded its customers for all software subscription fees.

Webex. Cisco has given free access to Webex conferencing services for 90 days, and existing Cisoc customers can also get as many VPN and firewall licenses as their hardware can support, free of charge for 90 days.

Workplace Health and Safety. Oracle is offering existing Oracle HR customers free access for as long as required to its Workplace Health and Safety system, which helps customers manage key workplace health and safety issues and answer critical response questions.

COVID-19 emergency relief projects. Procore Technologies is offering existing customers access to its platform and customer support for work on COVID-19 emergency relief construction projects to help accelerate the construction of COVID-19-related emergency relief facilities.

Free software development courses. Throughout April, Pluralsight will give access to all its courses for free to anyone interested in learning to code and also courses on cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Cyber Files Cloud. Acronis’s enterprise file sync and share solution Cyber Files Cloud is being offered for free to all services providers—existing and new—through 31 July. It provides office and mobile users with file access, sync and share in a hosted cloud system.

Remote Work Pulse. German software vendor SAP has made available some of its products including Remote Work Pulse, a feedback tool developed by Qualtrics that helps employers keep teams informed. Organisations can also use Ariba Discovery to post their sourcing needs and get responses from suppliers from across the world, responding to consumer demand through a large business network. Lastly, Qualtrics Continuity Pulse combines solutions from Ariba and Qualtrics to deliver a pre-configured solution to help procurement and supply chain gain visibility into the health of suppliers. 

Slack Workspace. Slack has made its Workspace Standard and Plus plans free for non-profit organisations for three months.

Autodesk services. Autodesk, who develops software for engineering, construction, manufacturing, has made several products available free of charge since late March, those include BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Design, Fusion 360, Fusion Team, AutoCAD Web and Mobile and Shotgun. 

Freshchat and Freshcaller. Freshworks has made available, free of charge for six months, its customer engagement tools Freshchat and Freshcaller. The tools can be used to manage customer queries via digital channels.

E-ommerce tools. Retail software provider Vend is offering three months free of it’s Marsello and BigCommerce offers. The offers help retailers benefit from a loyalty program powered by Marsello, and three months of BigCommerce’s eCommerce platform, to help retailers trade when their physical store is shut.

Emergency response operations. ServiceNow is offering free access for government agencies to an application it developed with Washington State Department of Health to manage their own response to COVID-19. ServiceNow also developed other three community apps which are also available for free, those are Emergency Outreach, Emergency Self Report and Emergency Exposure Management.

OnePlaceMail. Australian SaaS vendor OnePlace Solutions is offering its Microsoft 365 add-on software, the OnePlaceMail App, for free to support remote workers. This offer will be valid until 30 June 2020.

Australian Business Continuity. The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews have launched a resource to provide access to free business services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes some of the offers mentioned in this story and others and include free offers from Telstra, Google, ServiceNow, Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe, Salesforce, CultureAmp and SAP. 

Free Microsoft Teams and Virtual Meeting Rooms. Telstra, in partnership with various vendors, has developed a several offers to support businesses as they transition to remote working. Telstra is offering a free six-month trial of Microsoft Teams through its Apps Marketplace. It is also offering its Virtual Meeting Rooms free of charge until 30 June, this allows collaboration through video and audio conferencing.

LiveTiles software. Australian software vendor LiveTiles is offering several products for free including some resulting from its partnership with Microsoft. These include Microsoft Teams Tips and Tricks video library, Microsoft Teams Game—a virtual card game for planning out, structuring and deploying Microsoft Teams across the organisation, free extended trial of our LiveTiles employee app and LiveTiles Teams Planner tool.

Social media manager. Hootsuite is offering free access to its professional plan for affected nonprofit organisations and small businesses up to 1 July 2020. This includes access to its library of social media training courses free of charge. 

Collaboration and remote access software. LogMeIn has created Emergency Remote Work Kits through which governments, educational institutions, healthcare organisations and nonprofits get three months of free access to the company’s software. Included in this offer are solutions for meetings and video conferencing, webinars and virtual events, IT support and management of remote employee devices and apps, and remote access to devices in multiple locations.

Blizz. TeamViewer is offering its online collaboration solution Blizz to all Australian schools and universities free of charge. The software provides a virtual classroom environment with up to 50 participants via video and telephone.

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