As coronavirus spread uncontrolled throughout the world during the spring, it meant a new reality for companies — and new solutions that needed to be implemented by IT departments everywhere. This superb article by Twain Taylor, first published in April, delivered essential information for IT pros looking for answers, especially IT pros at smaller companies who needed remote work tools that wouldn’t bust their limited budgets. Keep in mind that some of the free trial offers and price reductions discussed in the article have expired (although many have been extended), but the sheer number of tools mentioned here makes it a clear choice for our 20 Best of 2020 series.
The shift to working from home has been so sudden that it’s caught many DevOps and IT teams unprepared. Technology teams have scrambled to set up remote workstations and get work done as a remote organization. It has not been easy, but there have been many surprises in terms of vendors offering free remote work tools and services. That’s what we cover in this article.
By far, the biggest list of remote work tools being offered for free for a short time is in the domain of security. Here’s the long list of free security tools available today:
- GFI Software has a three-month free offer for its Kerio Control with VPN security software.
- CyberArc is offering its remote access solution Alerio free till the end of May. This is a good way to give anyone working remotely access to internal applications.
- Splashtop offers a remote desktop software and is making this solution available free of charge for 60 days.
- Senseon is offering its Endpoint 360 remote security solution free for six months.
- Sophos announced that its extending protection of devices for not just its customers’ personal and home computers as well.
- Druva backup and recovery solution is offering its Endpoint and Office 365 service free for six months. If your company uses Office 365 and you don’t already have a backup for it, there’s no better time to start backing up your data.
- SentinelOne is a cybersecurity solution that detects and remediates threats and vulnerabilities. They’re offering their SentinelOne Core and their deployment services free until May 16.
- Okta is an identity management solution. They’re making their Emergency Remote Work service free for six months.
- PingIdentity is also an identity management platform, and they’re offering free SSO and MFA for unlimited users and applications for six months.
- PagerDuty is used for incident management. During a time when teams are remote, incidents are bound to increase. PagerDuty is giving out six free licenses for six months. This will go a long way in shortening the impact of incidents.
There are numerous video conferencing tools offering free usage of their services without limitations (and some with minor limitations). Here are some of the major ones:
- Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts have made the enterprise version of their products available to all. This includes the ability to record meetings.
- Cisco Webex is offering a free 90-day license with no usage limitations on its video conferencing solution.
- Support.com free remote tech support: If you’re the IT head responsible for setting up and ensuring employees are ready to work from home, you’ve probably got your hands full at the moment. Support.com can ease some of that load by allowing your employees to contact them to sort out their technical issues. If you’re concerned about security, you may want to opt for a paid plan.
- Cloudflare provides security for applications that are accessed remotely. It doesn’t use a VPN and instead uses its global network to provide SSO, firewall, DDoS protection, and more. Cloudflare for Teams is now free for small businesses through September 1st. This is a great option for IT teams that have been caught unprepared by COVID-19.
- Absolute is providing access to its VPN monitoring solution Application Persistence for VPN free till Aug . 31. For IT teams that need to provide VPN en masse, this is a great way to stay secure.
Team managers and leads
- SixFifty is a tool to craft policies on sick leave, remote work, travel, and reimbursement. During this phase, SixFifty has two free tools that help gauge the pulse of remote organizations, and even enforce policies on remote work.
- 15five is a tool for managers and employees to be in-sync. It prompts employees to answer a list of questions that are sent to their manager. It’s a simple tool that helps managers gauge their employees’ performance, and employees to gain feedback from their managers.
- Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse is a similar solution to gauge the pulse of your employees. It is simpler than the above two tools with just a single question “How are your feeling today?” Qualtrics is making this tool free for use during the coronavirus pandemic.
- iFlow is a time tracking tool that is useful for IT managers who are being badgered by other department heads for a way to track the time their teams are being productive.
Collaboration and productivity
- Atlassian has announced that its developer productivity and collaboration tools will be free for a limited time. This includes cloud-based versions of Jira, Confluence, Jira Service Desk, and Jira Core. These are widely used tools, especially for issue tracking.
- StackOverflow Teams is an internal Q&A platform for teams to better share knowledge and collaborate. The Teams plan of this offering is now temporarily free for developer teams to start using. If you love the public StackOverflow, try this company-only version.
- Slack is now an indispensable part of DevOps teams. It is used for everything from casual banter to serious incident resolution. Slack has made its paid plan now free for users in response to COVID-19.
- Asana is a project management app that is very extensible and mature. Many startup teams have been relying on Asana to coordinate their work. Now, Asana Business is made free for one year. If you’re on the free tier, it’s time to step it up at no cost.
- Quip is a Salesforce productivity tool for Salesforce. It includes chat, documents, and spreadsheets to enable users to collaborate in the cloud. If your organization is heavily Salesforce-dependent, you may want to try Quip, which is offering unlimited users and unlimited storage for free until Sep 30.
- Loom is a screen and video recording tool that’s effective when working on frontend UI, or even to demonstrate steps in a help center or knowledge base. If you’re working on one of these projects, you’ll want to try Loom. To make things better, they’ve removed recording limits allowing you to record as many videos as you need to. This is great for knowledge sharing and greatly improves inter-team communication.
- Techsmith is making its popular screencasting tool Snagit free of charge till the end of June. Not just Snagit, but also Relay, which is an educational video tool. If you’d like to communicate with the power of visuals, these tools may just be what you need.
- Calendly is a simple tool to help make scheduling meetings easier. It prevents back and forths about meeting times. Calendly is now free through June.
- Meero is a file-sharing site that focuses on sharing large files. If you work with a lot of media assets or really large data files and your company doesn’t have a secure remotely-accessible cloud storage space, Meero can be a temporary solution.
Learning and development
- FreeCodeCamp has been one of the top sources for people learning to code. Its interactive format and high quality of education make it the best place to learn new programming languages. FreeCodeCamp has a good list of new programming languages you can learn during the pandemic.
- Jeff Geerling’s Ansible books are now free to download and read. If you work with Ansible or have wanted to learn it, this is a good way to do so.
While this is a difficult time with a forced transition to remote work, there’s never been a better time to empower your teams to work remotely than now. This long list of free remote work tools is ready to equip you with all your needs for communication, collaboration, and security. Stay indoors, stay safe, but improve your ability to be a better remote organization.
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