Monday's Amtrak train derailment that instantly shut down southbound I-5 at the Mounts Road trestle overpass for nearly three days also set new usage records for WaTech's Remote Access Service as state employees avoided the traffic mess by working from home.
"There was a definite increase in VPN usage over the last few days," said Justin Nord, whose job in the agency's Computing Services Division includes caretaking and monitoring duties for the Virtual Private Network (VPN) service offered by WaTech. "Given the amount of people who started leave this week, it is expected that VPN usage would drop some as it always does during the holidays. However we experienced the opposite."
|Emergency workers clear I-5 south following the Dec. 18 derailment.|
With Gov. Jay Inslee declaring a state of emergency following the derailment during the morning commute, and traffic delays of three hours or more reported over the jammed alternative routes, many state agencies encouraged their north-living employees equipped with VPN to telework rather than make the extra-long drive south.
Nord said on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, the average count was 2,350 users connected via VPN from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the same days this week - when I-5 was closed for derailment cleanup and repairs, the count rose to 2,769, an average of 419 users more than the week before.
In fact the previous peak usage for VPN usage was 2,800 concurrent users. But around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, usage topped out at 3,035 active users, setting a new record.
For further comparison: From midnight to midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 12, the system recorded 3,967 unique VPN users logging in, while on Tuesday, Dec. 19 a total of 4,592 unique VPN users were recorded.
He and other VPN administrators were monitoring the system closely during the usage rush, but it experienced no degraded performance.
"It's expected to be able to handle a much larger user base if needed," Nord said.
WaTech offers a variety of remote access services. To learn more about secure VPN and other services, see our Remote Access Services page.