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Cloud and the Pandemic
Technology - September 3, 2020
The world is disrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19 and every part of our daily life is impacted by the pandemic. Nevertheless, not everyone has been impacted equally by this disaster. From a business standpoint, some companies have to shut stop, some are struggling to stay afloat while some have transitioned to the new reality with relative ease.
Many companies, especially in the IT sector have found ‘work from home’ so successful that they are looking to make it permanent, even after the pandemic is over. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for example, has advised that even after the pandemic, around 75% of the workforce will permanently work from home. Similar plans have been envisioned by Facebook, Twitter and many other companies.
Taking leaps in the Cloud
The ‘new normal’ consists of a workplace which mainly runs from home. In order to empower this remote setup, we need Cloud. Let us start with examples. Zoom has raked in more users in two months of 2020 than it did in entire 2019. Teams, the business communication software from Microsoft has seen a userbase jump of more than 70%. US Department of Defense (DoD) also moved to a virtual workplace platform, called as Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR). This platform leverages Microsoft Teams for communication and is available on all devices. This platform has seen more than 900,000 downloads in less a month!
If Cloud was a luxury before then the pandemic has made it a necessity.
The numbers above can make you believe that Cloud adoption is on a fairytale and business is booming. It isn’t true. There is an influx of demand from companies who have been trying to acclimatize with the new normal. However, many small and medium sized businesses have unfortunately shut shops in the pandemic and this is the reason, cloud revenue has been dragged down.
Omdia, a research firm predicts that Software as a Service (SaaS) market will grow by 4-5% in 2020. This rate will decline to around 2-3% in 2021. For IaaS, PaaS, and CaaS, the rate of growth will be limited to 1-2 percent this year. The numbers depict that in spite of the widespread demand and the surge in visibility, the growth isn’t significant. This also brings in light, the unfortunate fate of thousand of companies who couldn’t survive the pandemic.
Novel Cloud solutions for the modern day
Businesses have started looking at the post-COVID world and in identifying the appropriate cloud services which would become the usual norm. For e.g. many manufacturing plants got closed due to lack of demand or because they were forced to shut down as part of the lockdown Cloud can help these companies in identifying new demands and enforcing safe operations. Salesforce has taken a lead in this field; it has built Salesforce Care for Manufacturing-a solution to help manufacturers update reallocate resources to produce essential supplies for COVID-19. This approach offers better visibility can forecast demand with better accuracy.
Cloud technology can also help workers in maintaining social distancing. It can give 360-degree information on the on-site situation and real-time view of operations. Also, technologies such as AI can reduce the need of human intervention as it can automatically identify defects and predict outages.
Google is another leader in this field. It’s Cloud’s AI and machine learning products comprises of plug-and-play AI components. This will unlock new technologies in the coming years.
a. Microsoft launched Azure Edge Zones and Azure Private Edge Zones in March 2020. The idea is to provide continuous Azure services and application platform and management at the edge. Part of Microsoft’s early adopter program, these zones are available for preview in North America.
b. Google Cloud has partnered with AT&T to develop 5G edge computing solutions. The solutions will be based on Google Cloud and AT&T network. A similar program has been launched in India where Google has partnered with Jio, a large local telecom firm. These offerings will leverage Google Cloud’s expertise in technologies like Kubernetes, AI, ML and analytics.
c. Like Microsoft, IBM also announced edge services specially designed for telecommunications industry and other sectors. These services run on Red Hat OpenShift and can be deployed across different multi-clouds and edge environments. Plus, IBM announced a plethora of new applications and support platforms such as Edge application manager, Telco network cloud manager, Telco Network Cloud Ecosystem etc.
Flexibility is the inherent trait of Cloud and this pandemic has tested our ability to adapt to unprecedented challenges. A right cloud strategy can even save you costs by eliminating the on-premise servers and giving the businesses muscle to expand in terms of computing, network and storage. However, the biggest advantage of Cloud is its ability to experiment and deploy new technologies.
The COVID-19 situation has proven the importance of Cloud. It enabled businesses to function and in fact has made them more agile. There is every chance that COVID or Some other potentially more dangerous pandemics can be expected in future. Cloud is the biggest asset of businesses to tackle such uncertainties of today and tomorrow.