In its two decades of existence, there has never been a more favorable time for cloud computing than now. More and more businesses were already adopting cloud technologies, of course, attracted by its benefits. Yet, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that the cloud experienced a true revolution and reached new sectors and users.
When the pandemic hit, the whole concept of cloud computing changed. It soon became clear that any business needed a cloud strategy to survive. It was no longer something just for tech-savvy companies.
If you want to learn about how the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak changed the cloud forever, then read on.
Up until recent times, moving from on-premise IT systems to cloud-hosted environments tended to be seen as a choice made only by the digital-savvy. It was these companies, in fact, that seemed to recognize and appreciate its benefits the most.
What benefits are we talking about? Limitless scalability, ease of management, cost-efficiency, and environmental sustainability, to name a few. Following the initial investment (and leap of faith), cloud users started to reap incredible rewards. It was clear: cloud technologies did have a huge potential.
Shifting to cloud computing, though, has always been a twofold challenge. On the one hand, it meant getting rid of bulky physical machines. On the other, it had a lot to do with evolving a company’s internal culture. Senior managers needed to embrace the potential offered by this disruptive technology.
Companies with a rigid business model, or led by traditional executives, were often wary of such a huge transformation. These players believed that it would be safer to use legacy systems and familiar technologies. The devil you know, right? Of course, this proved dramatically wrong.
But it wasn’t just more old-fashioned businesses that were reluctant to welcome cloud technologies. Many IT managers recognized the value of cloud computing, yet the change seemed too out of reach. This was often down to budget constraints, company size, or lack of in-house IT skills.
Frustratingly, companies that wanted to move to the cloud but couldn’t, had to abandon their ideas. This would turn out to be a huge mistake, as it would leave these actors behind during the COVID-19 crisis.
Sure, nobody anticipated that a global pandemic was on the horizon and was about to change our lives forever. Yet, those with a solid cloud environment already had an invaluable advantage.
When the Coronavirus outbreak hit, governments around the world agreed on the top priority. Forbidding all types of contact between people to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
What did this mean, in practice? The immediate enforcement of quarantine measures. Entire cities and countries were on lockdown, with citizens unable to leave their houses except for essential reasons.
The immediate consequence was the requirement for businesses and public places to close their doors to the public. Offices, schools, restaurants, shops: almost overnight, they all had to suspend face-to-face operations.
This, though, didn’t mean that they couldn’t operate at all. There was a way to still be able to run the business, and that way was cloud systems. At a rapid pace, companies had to set up remote working environments to allow their staff to work from home.
Those that were already using cloud technologies had a massive competitive edge. Less future-ready players that needed to build a cloud space from scratch had a lot of work to do. Most importantly, they had no other option to continue to sustain their business.
So, who exactly are the new cloud users in the age of COVID-19? Several sectors have moved to the cloud during the pandemic, but we have identified the most prominent ones.
Small, local businesses such as shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés were among the first that had to change the way they operated. Companies in retail and hospitality are primarily customer-facing, so the shift was huge. How could they keep selling their products, paying their employees, and retaining customers? With cloud technologies, to support new services such as online customer orders.
Offices began to harness the power of cloud-based virtual conferencing software. Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams recorded a surge in both free and paying users. Fitness studios and gyms also harnessed these tools. Instructors record live or on-demand video classes, and people around the globe managed to exercise from their homes.
In the education sector, schools, colleges, and universities moved their lessons to the cloud. E-learning, once seen as a fancy way to deliver training, was now the only available option.
Another industry that was affected by the pandemic in an enormous way was the healthcare sector. Of course, hospital and healthcare facilities became crowded, and staff had to work almost impossible shifts. But the other massive change involved family doctors. These had to gear up for virtual patient appointments, electronic data collection, and online prescription services.
All of these players faced new challenges, both from a technical and from a cultural point of view. However, they all found the energy, determination, and drive to take that leap of faith that was the only thing that could keep them afloat.
New cloud users didn’t only face fresh challenges: they created new ones, too. The most prominent? Security concerns. With a growing number of people working from home, attending virtual meetings, practicing e-learning, and selling or buying online, new security threats have emerged.
In addition to this, the sheer amount of new cloud users also generated scalability and reliability pressure. Cloud systems were suddenly accessed by a huge number of users, and this was a big strain to cope with. Nonetheless, these issues were fixed for the most part, and in particular thanks to the invaluable role of managed services providers.
With an approved vaccine edging closer and presumably available in a short time, it is likely that the coronavirus crisis will soon be over. Once the vaccine has been approved, commercialized, and administered, life everywhere will slowly go back to normal.
This, though, doesn’t mean that companies that moved their systems to the cloud should go back to being on-premise. After all, it was the adoption of cloud technologies that kept their lights on during these months. For this reason, new cloud users should continue to host their business in the cloud.
It is still unclear whether companies will present remote working as the only viable option to their staff. Similarly, we can’t know for sure if schools and universities will go back to traditional teaching. E-commerce has definitely skyrocketed, so it’s presumable that retail and hospitality will continue to offer online services.
What we can say with confidence, though, is that cloud computing gave many of these actors a new lease of life. When running a brick-and-mortar business seemed impossible, cloud systems were the answer. When going to school was banned, cloud-based e-learning was there to help.
If businesses want to adopt the best cloud strategy going forward, it is crucial for old and new users to keep a few things in mind. The most pressing of them all is the security issue. As more and more cloud environments are built, more threats can appear and have catastrophic consequences.
To conclude on a more optimistic note, it’s also important to remember a side benefit of cloud computing. In the face of unexpected adversity, it has shown us that we can be strong, resilient, and ready to trust new technologies. It has now become clearer than ever how cloud plays a central role in sustaining businesses around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the importance of cloud technologies to sustain businesses. With an excellent cloud strategy in place, your company can thrive in the post-pandemic landscape.
Harnessing the power of the cloud should no longer be seen as the remit of a few digital-savvy players. It should be regarded as the best, if not the only, way to enable future and crisis-proof business success.
Do you need any help with setting up a cloud environment? Would you like to find out more about cloud security and management? Then contact us today. The team at NETdepot will be happy to schedule a chat and discuss your IT requirements together, to find the solution that best matches your needs.