The Dramatic Rise of Cloud Computing During the Pandemic
Cloud to the Rescue!
Back when the pandemic initially began—it’s hard to believe that our first Remote By Design™ post was published in March—the cloud rolled in… and it hasn’t budged. In fact, things have become even cloudier. During these past months, organizations have shown a tremendous need for responsive and adaptable IT services, and cloud computing has supplied it. Amply. Part of this was a response to the nearly universal adoption of remote work, whether from home or outside of the office. Other pivots included new kinds of supply chain management and responding to the increased need for cybersecurity. IT’s response to all of these rapid changes in the market have at least one factor in common: The use of cloud-based services and platforms. Companies are more aggressively and rapidly relying on cloud services and providers. Let’s explore why.
Speed to Market
One reason cloud adoption has soared is that it accelerates IT’s ability to respond to business needs. The increase in time-to-market capabilities has been crucial for many IT organizations. IT typically takes a measured approach to developing an organization’s IT infrastructure. It’s not just the technical details, management and coordination involved when standing up these systems—it’s also the levels of reliability, scalability and security they require. The pandemic demanded pivots, and many IT organizations have pivoted toward—you guessed it—the cloud. Cloud-based platforms enable them to construct systems, infrastructure and machines faster than they could do in traditional data centers, and also with a higher level of control.
Sized to Fit
A common challenge for corporate IT involves building a system that works for their organization in the short and long term. Factor into this equation the wildly dynamic market changes caused by COVID-19, and you’ll appreciate just how difficult IT’s challenge really is. IT leaders have a tough puzzle to solve: How do you hit your target when the target refuses to sit still? If they make their IT solution too small, they’ll regret it; if they make it too large, then they’ll waste precious resources and budget.
This is where the cloud can provide an answer. Because of cloud computing’s flexibility and scalability of design and operations, an organization can buy the precisely sized system it needs, on demand. If demand spikes, they can dynamically acquire more capacity and resources on the fly. If demand drops, those resources can be removed and the costs lowered. This freedom to buy only what’s needed, when it’s needed, as it’s needed, is one of the most powerful benefits of cloud-based solutions. Adaptability in sizing to meet client’s needs is a critical component of cloud solutions, but it’s augmented by their increasing capabilities as well.
Making Organizations More Capable
Another reason the pandemic lends itself to cloud-based solutions is the robust, rich and sophisticated ecosystems that various cloud providers offer. It’s hard to believe that the cloud computing era, which essentially launched in 2006 with Amazon Web Services, has developed such a vast array of systems and capabilities in such a short time. Cloud computing started with simple storage and capabilities to run a virtual server where companies would shift their workload from the machines in their dedicated data centers. It’s now evolved to the point where organizations can run and develop their entire enterprise ecosystem and technology stack in the cloud. A good example of this is Snapchat, which built its entire application, end-to-end, on Google’s GCP platform.
What this means for companies in the COVID-19 era, is that cloud computing now has nearly all the capabilities needed to run and operate an enterprise. Gone are the days when organizations had to build mostly custom components in the cloud when moving their systems to this infrastructure. Companies today leverage pre-programmed, cloud-based services for every aspect of their computing needs. Whether it’s databases, sophisticated workflows or any other core technology—the current cloud can support these needs. And cloud computing vendors haven’t stopped there, they are rapidly expanding their services to take advantage of the developments in AI and other predictive analytics and advanced computing approaches to enable companies to extend and expand their own offerings.
Cloudy and Reliable
Cloud computing helps companies maintain the level of standards and expectations they have for large systems in the market today. Essentially, this translates into the vaunted goal of achieving the “five 9’s” of availability, e.g. 99.999%, which equates to about a mere five minutes and 15 seconds of downtime a year. Any system capable of delivering that level of performance is clearly enterprise-grade and meets the needs of the vast majority of customers. Cloud computing certainly enables companies to approach this level of performance due to its robust architecture and inherent high availability of designs. Systems reliability also extends to include additional factors like security, systems stability, maintenance and other “up-time” factors for organizations. The benefits of using cloud computing during the pandemic to ensure, maintain and sustain organizations in an all-remote, all-the-time model can’t be overstated. In fact, the development of cloud-based systems is exactly what allows services like Netflix and Dropbox to operate successfully in today’s pandemic-driven-demand environment.
Let’s Get Cost-Effective
IT organizations have budgets, and they must operate within those budgets to drive overall enterprise profitability. The solutions they adopt must be cost-effective. In this area, cloud computing has made a quantum leap over organization’s dedicated IT operations centers. The cost efficiencies gained by a company in their own data center are limited to what they can purchase and deploy, as opposed to the efficiencies achieved by the far larger market for cloud computing providers. Cloud computing services have been able to reduce costs by several factors or more, when compared to individual corporate operations.
When organizations consider what it costs to set up and operate their infrastructure and compare those costs to what they get on the cloud, they’ll likely find that cloud computing, dollar-for-dollar, is the more cost efficient approach for them. That’s an important lesson many organizations have learned during the pandemic. Has yours?