The power of cloud throughout the global pandemic
Not a word that is typically found in our collective corporate lexicon. That is until 2020. As we continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, reopening society, contact tracing, mask wearing, social distancing, many others, and the collective societal and political issues that arise, it’s clear that we have a great deal collectively to learn and overcome. And as we are well over a million deaths worldwide and that figure expected to rise, it's clear that we are not out of the woods yet.
As American President John F. Kennedy said “In the Chinese language, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity”. As it relates to COVID-19 the danger is clear, and one that we grapple with every day regardless of geographic location or social strata. But where is the opportunity in this crisis? To recognize the opportunity, we first need to understand what we have learned. If we had to put a word on it, that word would be brittle.
When we think about the world materials like cast iron, concrete and others come to mind. Materials like these and objects made with them appear solid, impenetrable, strong, but once they encounter or experience a jolt, a tremor, a shift – they quickly and surprisingly crumble.
We don’t need to look far in recent history to be reminded of how our collective institution and systems - healthcare, medical supply chains, financial markets, job markets, food supply chains, real estate markets, government and legal systems, and many others – that all appeared solid, and instilled confidence and even pride to nations around the world – crumbled in a matter of weeks under the jolt of the pandemic.
It’s hard to comprehend how that ever happened. And underpinning all of those sits technology. Technology that has been the engine for innovation, productivity, and growth for decades was suddenly put under enormous stress and strain. We realized that the technology that underpinned our societal systems, government, business, and commerce was itself in many cases brittle and in many cases outdated.
A great example was when the State of New Jersey in the United States placed an ad for COBOL developers as unemployment claims in the State jumped 1,600% in a week!
Thus, the opportunity to counter the proverbial and real danger, is to recast IT to be more flexible, pliable, adaptable, and able to shape-shift to meet the needs of business, government, and society. As work shifted from the office to the home, many adjustments had to take place and many lessons were learned in short order.
We realized that collaboration tools – like chat, web meetings, video conferencing became invaluable for business continuity.
We realized the value of virtualization, virtual desktops, and software distribution.
Although we were collectively suffering from “Zoom fatigue” we realized that we actually could be effective as individuals, as teams, as departments, and as corporations, all while working safely from home. We also realized that if we were now suddenly virtual, our pool of job candidates was no longer limited to people in our geographic locale and that our talent pool was suddenly global!
Given the nature of not just how but where work is getting done, zero-trust-security became critical. And along with all that we were reminded about the essential role that backup, recovery and business continuity – especially in a distributed, mobile workforce collectively play.
And underneath all of those we find infrastructure. A distributed, mobile workforce requires an increased and more deliberate shift to cloud computing. This shift has been happening for over a decade, but the global pandemic has driven home the point that the intrinsic characteristics of cloud computing – elasticity, scale, metered service, on-demand, self-service – are essential to delivering a more flexible, pliable, adaptable infrastructure – one able to make the institution and systems that rely and utilize them less brittle and more responsive.
This shift is already taking place. A recent article in CIO.com highlights that according to IT Analysts Gartner and IDC, overall IT spending is projected to drop 5-8% over the coming years (a result of the downturn of practically all sectors) while cloud services are expected to grow 19%. That rebalancing is also projected to pull in projects from out years in order to support the changing demands and dynamics of business today.
Gartner sees businesses heading for the cloud in a big way over the next two years, with 2022 cloud spending reaching levels analysts hadn’t previously expected would be attained until 2023 or 2024. 
Companies and institutions are realizing that cloud computing will play an essential role in the New Normal taking shape today.
Strategic rebalancing can be a daunting endeavor. Understanding what an organization’s IT estate consists of, what it actually needs to support the business, and the options to maximize the impact of the IT estate are a non-trivial endeavor. And they are time-critical endeavors best tackled in partnership with a trusted, proven advisor who can be objective, insightful, and lay out the options and course that will best meet the needs of an organization.
Each crisis that we collectively experience makes us stronger and more responsive from an IT perspective. In the same way that in 2001 events of 9/11 taught us or reminded us of the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity, the same holds for the events of 2019/2020. They teach us the importance of flexible and responsive IT that judiciously employs cloud services to create less brittle, more flexible, pliable, adaptable systems.
As Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I either win or learn”
We have an opportunity to learn. We have an opportunity to prevail and win even in this pandemic and offer the organizations and institutions we support a truly modern infrastructure for the modern world! And our organizations in turn have the opportunity to transform our products and services in-order to deliver unprecedented value and delight our customers and citizens around the world!
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