The rise of the public cloud in times of the COVID-19 crisis


By Milind Borate

With offices across the country locked and employees being required to work from home for weeks or perhaps even months to come, the idea of maintaining physical proximity to infrastructure and data centers is now irrelevant. During these challenging times, the public cloud has become an unquestioned positive force and has helped companies seamlessly maintain enterprise critical infrastructure.

Overnight, thousands of companies have become more reliant on the cloud, and in turn, have conquered their long-held fears of the need to be close to enterprise-critical infrastructure. In a time like this, the cloud’s resiliency, accessibility, and versatility give people the ability to work from anywhere and keep critical operations running. In the cloud, not only is data security more robust, but IT teams are able to build, iterate and evolve infrastructure in a way never possible with legacy systems. Such capabilities are a convenience in the best of times, and a complete necessity in the worst.

Security and productivity amidst increasing insecurity
If implemented thoughtfully, the cloud has the capacity to deliver a platform for a which is unparalleled by traditional systems. This is extremely beneficial at a time when we are already seeing examples of cyber criminals and scam artists attempting to take advantage of COVID-19. Safety and security are paramount when so many of us are connecting remotely.

The network edge has effectively disintegrated, and a centralized security platform based in the cloud offers an ideal way to maintain visibility and security of a company’s expanded network.      In addition to offering robust security features that meet government standards, the cloud offers an incredible level of automated capabilities. Besides keeping employees connected at work, cloud-based applications have been critical to various types of collaboration. For instance, it has brought patients and doctors together safely through vital telehealth services, powered online learning while classrooms are closed and enabled global medical research on a historic scale. It is important to keep our society and economy moving forward as much as possible and the outreach from the cloud, and SaaS community, has been outstanding.

Business continuity during a prolonged lockdown
In any organization, a typical business continuity playbook has plans for things like earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters, but very few included a page on what to do in the event of a global pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 has pushed companies to streamline processes in order to ensure their employees can operate without issue in times of a prolonged lockdown.

Take Druva for example, when we moved our India team to remote working, the decision was based on the fact that we had already completed robust planning, business continuity testing and operational evaluations. As a cloud company with critical infrastructure on AWS, our developers could continue to develop and run operations. Besides being beneficial for the business, this sort of approach also helped provide clear directives for our employees. There were no questions about how to get work done – all of the platforms regularly used were readily available without interruption.

Continuity of customer operations
For those reliant on global supply chains, the virus’s continued spread has exposed new vulnerabilities, forcing a re-examination of key business operations. Planning for data availability and resiliency, network security and employee enablement are key pillars to avoiding some of the challenges the larger business community is currently facing.

A key learning from the current situation is that business continuity planning can no longer be a playbook for how to avoid a potential disaster. Instead it must be a path companies are prepared to navigate through turbulent waters.

How does Cloud come to the rescue? Its automated capabilities help minimize management of rote tasks, and in turn can help IT professionals focus on identifying and rectifying adverse events quickly to minimize business interruptions.

Moving us forward
Several weeks ago, our CEO and co-founder, Jaspreet Singh received an email from Sequoia Capital that was sent to all its portfolio CEOs, talking about the “Black Swan moment” and cautioning against coronavirus. The theory describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

What we are witnessing with COVID-19 is similar. This pandemic will likely change the world      permanently. Afterall, it is already responsible for the first major recession as a result of a dramatic loss of productivity (versus most economic recessions which are due to fluctuations in credit cycles, resulting in overexposure to a particular asset class such as housing, stocks, etc.)

Regardless of past decisions, it’s clear the agility, reliability and global accessibility offered by today’s modern cloud will help ensure businesses of all sizes have the flexibility and responsiveness required to instantly react to new, unplanned events. Whether exact steps are in a “playbook” or not. The cloud is already proven, dependable technology and has stepped in to show us what it can do in a time of global crisis and will be a major driver in whatever version of the future we decide.

As your organizations begin or expedite cloud initiatives, I encourage leaders to take a few important steps to ensure a successful and smooth migration:

  • Remember that cloud is a technology, offering the scale and capabilities to power the next evolution of your business. Moving your workloads and operations to the cloud is only the first step, not the end.
  • Open and honest communication is critical. Cloud’s automated capabilities bring tremendous      value but can also raise concerns about job security. In today’s climate, this fear will only be heightened. Have a plan in place to support your teams and enable knowledge workers, expanding their skill sets to deliver even more impactful work.
  • With so much “cloud washing” in the market, do not be taken by misleading claims. The advantages of cloud lie in the ability of applications to scale on demand (versus running workloads 24×7). Services forklifted to the cloud are not built to take advantage of cloud’s nuances, and often fail to deliver the promised benefits for an organization.

Universal solidarity, a thoughtful approach and the power of today’s modern cloud are the key ingredients that will help us work during the most unprecedented public health crisis of our times. These give me hope that we will weather this storm and emerge stronger, smarter, and more resilient than ever before.

(The author is the Co-founder & CTO Druva)


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