CLOUD – An Essential IT infra element in COVID19

Technology | 5 minutes to read

19th May, 2020

Microsoft reported a 775% spike in cloud services to demand following COVID19.

A whopping number that possibly images the new normal to which the world is shifting.

COVID19 curfew has actually put cloud adoption into fast gear as it transforms the connectivity globally.

Been in vogue in the start-up arena where it enabled testing start-up ideas on a shoe-string budget, cloud has now started to make its presence felt across businesses. Thanks to cloud computing, real-time secure access of data along with sharing, editing & co-editing of data have made the remote working viable across oceans. Financial services, cloud companies in education, healthcare, retail, life sciences have all taken a step up with the possibilities of cloud computing. No wonder then the report on ‘COVID19 Impact on Cloud Computing Market’ claims that the global impact of COVID19 on cloud market size is expected to grow to USD 295 billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5%! The growth is driven by enterprises’ need to support a remote workforce, rise in demand for cloud-based business continuity tools and services, the suitability of public cloud for today’s unique requirements and increased investments in the cloud for scaling-up.

First response

Preventing exposure to the virus has been the first step that enterprises took globally to protect their workforce. For this, businesses actioned the arrangement of feasible IT infra to the workforce ensuring their safety and ease of working from home. This helped in maintaining business continuity for the large part. However, not every business unit or every member of the team can be provided with the required infra capability due to variety of reasons, impacting business. Another learning that COVID19 has unveiled is the limitation posed by on-premise data centres. While its maintenance became unfeasible due to lockdown, it impacted businesses operations. What if the operations were of critical nature?

Companies whose reasons were non-investment into cloud infrastructure are close to biting the dust. This has been great learning for CTOs to accord seriousness to cloud in their scheme of things.

Keep it running

Cloud adoption requires investment and if there is one thing which is uniform across the globe then it has to be the expense crunch that COVID19 poses. So, while cloud migration is crucial we can definitely look at reducing cloud cost.

  • Only basic minimum and crucial applications can be uploaded on cloud – thereby downsizing the cloud inventory
  • Unused and barely used cloud storage and cloud network can be shutdown
  • Explore, evaluate and adopt reserved instances for pricing, spot instances for workloads and containerization for applications to make cloud spends reasonable
  • Cloud storage provides a variety of options that help minimise the spends. Like intelligent storage tiering, archiving, cold storage etc. Evaluate and adopt the one that suits your business data needs
  • Server maintenance and run-time add to the cloud cost. The non-production time or low-run time can also be minimised or scheduled for a stop to reduce cost
  • Variable pricing amongst cloud platforms can also be explored depending on the type of workload

Elixir for crisis

 The world government has swung into action to manage the pandemic breakout. Video surveillance, crowd management, individual mobility tracker like ‘Aarogya Setu App’ etc are being deployed to all alleviate COVID19 impact and support quarantine efforts. All of them are leveraging cloud services enabling seamless real-time connectivity and fast response which owing to the critical nature of the situation is crucial. Even treatment of Corona, testing for positive cases and the ongoing research into vaccine development worldwide is being aided by cloud services. Data scientists are leveraging Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence propelled by cloud to get closer to vaccine development.

Cloud architecture has oft been analysed and evaluated for investment purpose and while scalability takes the cake security is oft cited as bothersome specially for public cloud. In this crisis where control is possible by data, security is essential for everyone – be it government, hospitals, schools, working from home workforce, small & large businesses etc. A cyberattack at this time on any of the units can have a devastating impact globally. Security in cloud has come a long way since its inception. Hence, while adopting for cloud do not cut back on the investment required for securing the cloud architecture.

Moving ahead

Adopting cloud requires several long term and short term initiatives. While at this time, both need to be recalibrated keeping in view the firm’s financial commitments and goals, there are many reasonable short term initiatives that help lay the ground for executing long term initiatives.

Data lakes: a centralized data lake help to corelate data and gain actionable insights by bringing together data that is fragmented, non-uniform and spread across applications.

Niche App development: Taking up priority tasks is one of the major challenges in the crisis, mainly because a lot of time and effort is invested in sourcing data which is required to take up the priority task. Cloud can be leveraged to build new processes and apps that help sourcing requisite information in no time. If these can be made to host functions that are serverless, it can also cut down on managing cost to a great degree.

Outsource managed services: Evaluate the cost of outsourcing vs managing it in-house. Most of the time, we overlook the human capital cost involved in managing cloud services in-house.

Crucial application on cloud: business-critical applications mainly that can help ease pressure on cash flow is important at this time. There is no need to move all the business applications to cloud in one go, especially at this time when saving cash is important for all businesses.

There is no doubt that cloud adoption has never been deemed more critical than now. It echoes the studies that claim that expenditure on public cloud data center hardware and software grew by 7% while spends on traditional data centers and private cloud fell by 1% in the same duration of ‘19-‘20. The ability of quick build up with no dependency on hardware and fast turn-around time for significant requirements via security tools and firewalls have been the deciding factors for cloud adoption in the COVID19 times.

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