With the advent of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many organizations have had to re-adjust the way they operate. Remote working is now a reality for large sections of the workforce. Remote collaboration through cloud-based platforms is an accepted part of most workdays. But the utility of cloud-based technology does not end there. Here is how COVID-19 is driving us into a cloud-based future.
A recent report indicates that in the next two years the cloud computing industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5%. Already a strongly-emerging technology, cloud-based solutions are proving to be invaluable during a global health crisis where people can no longer work at a fixed site. The extent to which cloud-based technologies are driving us into the future are as follows:
Continued productivity is vital as organizations shift to remote models of working. This is as important to corporate organizations as it is to schools and colleges. During COVID-19, many working and learning programs have continued with high levels of efficiency, thanks to highly-flexible, scalable, and efficient cloud-based solutions.
The seamlessness with which business has continued means that every responsible organization should have a cloud migration solution.
Demand for collaboration tools has seen unprecedented growth in platforms like Zoom and Slack. More entrenched office productivity tools such as Microsoft 365 also sees high demand. These tools are all cloud-based and their excellent conferencing, and productivity suites all enjoy the multiple benefits of the cloud.
When the pandemic eventually subsides, people will have to go back to work. But an increasing number of workers will not. The freelance economy has seen continued growth in recent years, with over 60 million Americans doing freelance work of some sort. Cloud computing is an invaluable tool that has allowed the freelance economy to take hold and thrive.
As people have been stuck at home, the demand for e-commerce services has risen sharply. Retailers were already migrating away from brick and mortar into the online space before the global pandemic arrived.
Retail companies know that as e-commerce adoption rises, any cloud investment costs will be recouped through cloud cost reduction. This applies to cloud solutions also being responsible for overall reduced IT costs by obliterating the need for most traditional hardware such as servers.
The ways in which global supply chains have become embedded in e-commerce fulfillment points to an inevitable future internet of things. Service provider collaboration and integration happens at the level of the cloud between retailers and logistics service providers, resulting in a smooth and highly-efficient delivery system.
Through the robust scalability of the cloud and its forever switched-on nature, global supply chains can support the wants and whims of consumers everywhere. This has been shown during COVID-19, with online purchases spiking a staggering 146%, and supply chains barely breaking a sweat to deliver.
Healthcare has come to prominence during the pandemic. It has benefited greatly from access to a scalable and secure cloud infrastructure. This has been necessary to manage patient information. With millions of people laid low by the virus, it has taken the need for efficient and accurate computing to a new level of importance.
The prominence of the cloud during the pandemic goes beyond patient records. Collaboration between various private and governmental agencies has risen to unprecedented levels. Virus development projects are being shared by many countries and institutions.
Additionally, virus contingency management information is being shared by nations across the world. All these efforts are underpinned by highly scalable and collaborative cloud-based tools.
It is for moments like these that governments were already moving towards a cloud-based future at great speed. Until recently, almost half of all government agencies in the US were actively using cloud services.
These agencies understand the power and versatility of private cloud networks, with benefits such as deep security and information sovereignty being crucial. Cloud adoption within government circles will only continue to rise.
Binge-consumption of TV and audio content has been a feature of the pandemic. Video-streaming services have reported a strong surge in new subscriptions since the enactment of lockdown orders in many countries.
Not to be outdone, music services and many podcasts and audiobook services have also reported large jumps in membership. The gaming industry has also reported large spikes in usage times. Support services such as mobile networks and internet service providers have benefited from these enforced behavior changes.
The SaaS segment was already a growth area, and its continued importance and growth potential has been revealed during COVID-19. Due to the many daily applications and tools driven by this service, the industry in its entirety is in the limelight.
Service desks, accounting packages, customer relationship management, human resource management, and enterprise resource planning all rely on the SaaS model. Infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and desktop as a service are all part of the cloud family and are all showing continued growth.
The new model of remote working depends on the streamlined continuation of business-critical services such as human resource management. Cloud service providers have been able to remotely manage and secure underlying infrastructure, allowing organizations to continue to function within their constraints. This versatility has been perfect during the pandemic and will continue to be perfect for the business of the future.
If anything, the virus has taught us the danger of having all your data tied to office sites and fixed hardware installations. There has always been the danger of data loss through disasters on site. Data loss has been mitigated by on-site security, but cloud services offer a better way.
The better way of cloud services is because hardware inevitably deteriorates, can be stolen, corrupted, or become obsolete. When your data is simply inaccessible, as it has been during the pandemic, a better solution must be found.
There is also the matter of sustainability. Large organizations can collect vast amounts of hardware to house their information. It is the responsible thing to do to cut down your environmental footprint by putting everything in the cloud.
There are also downstream issues like energy efficiency and reduced building usage. Other sustainability wins come with the reduced need for workers to commute to the place where the information is held. These wins have come into sharp focus during the virus as many measures have revealed a cleaner planet, even if just temporarily.
The global pandemic has revealed that cloud services will continue to provide strategic flexibility and scalability for a number of organizations. The virus response would likely have been a lot less effective in a time before cloud services.
It is totally imaginable that habits like social distancing would have been impossible to achieve if people needed to be on-site to manage and control business-critical systems.
At this moment in time, cloud services may heavily favor sectors which are useful during a pandemic, but future prospects are robust across all sectors. There are also no geographical boundaries, with cloud services projected to increase in adoption across the world.
New cloud technologies like cloud direct connect, where private networks can join the cloud, will allow more and more types of organizations and networks to take part. Cloud computing is truly taking center stage in driving us into the future.
Paul Cooney is the Founder and President of Shamrock Consulting Group, the leader in technical procurement for telecommunications, data communications, data center, SD WAN consulting, dark fiber and cloud direct connect services provider.
After finding early success with Teligent, Inc. in the late 90’s, he took over AT&T’s struggling Los Angeles sales team and turned them into one of the best in the country within 6 months. In 2008, Paul left AT&T to start Shamrock, which he has grown into an award-winning industry disruptor offering vendor-neutral expertise on thousands of products and services related to cloud, colocation, wide area networking and telecommunications. Shamrock guarantees the best price on any product from over 250 different service providers.