COVID-19 is a virus that knows no borders. It has infiltrated every part of our lives in its relatively brief existence, leaving a path of devastation. We have seen the very real impact of the virus within the business world. However, it has also united the community who are determined to return to normal (or a new version of it) as soon as is possible.
There have been some positive stories emerge from the crisis within the business world – perfume manufacturers adapting to produce hand sanitiser and companies offering their idle servers to organisations researching a cure for COVID-19. Closer to home, the quickly evolving situation also forced the hand of businesses to review and reconsider their own processes to enable their teams to work from home – no mean feat given the resistance that many organisations have had to it for various reasons.
IT teams have had to rapidly deliver new tools for employees. Given the potential that working practices and operations will need to be completely rethought, with offices potentially never returning to the normal 9 to 5, IT teams need to ready their systems to cope with the new reality where working at home for vast proportions of the week, and different work patterns. The office set up, as we knew it, will drastically change.
This is where the public cloud could help to provide the answer.
Research published by Flexera identified that many businesses expect to increase their public cloud use post-pandemic. This was echoed in our own research. In a study we conducted earlier this year, we identified a desire from Scottish businesses to trial public cloud environments and create hybrid infrastructures, with the goal of achieving cost reductions, efficiency and environmental benefits. The companies we talked to expected to significantly up their use of AWS and Microsoft Azure already, so it is no surprise to see vast increases in uses of these solutions as COVID-19 has accelerated plans further.
The question by many is what to use the public cloud for during this time to aid with business recovery. Public Cloud excels at supporting workloads that require a lot of flexibility and repetition. When your capacity needs to increase for short-term demand, but also has a lot of quieter periods the public cloud is known for offering an unbeatable approach. But organisations should also consider their workloads using the Pet vs Cattle analogy and ask themselves – does this workload need nurtured (pet) or can it handle repetitive tasks without 24/7 attention (cattle)? The public cloud falls into the latter example.
It can be a real adjustment for organisations to cope with this as there is a natural urge to cultivate an existing solution. However, as part of our new reality post-lockdown, organisations need to place serious consideration to what aspects of their infrastructure do not require fulltime care and could easily be moved to the public cloud – like running scripts or batch jobs. The change does not need to be significant, making even slight adjustments will have a real impact on freeing up skills in your team.
But when time is tight, there may be a hesitance to enter such a project alone. This was another element identified in our research. We found that businesses want more support from external providers – like a managed service provider (MSP) – to assist with security and compliance (89%), ensuring cost optimisation (83%) and threat and vulnerability management (81%). Critically an MSP can support your success in overseeing your public cloud by accelerating your project at pace while ensuring security and compliance is not sacrificed. They can very practically and quickly relieve strain from your IT team allowing them to focus on those other critical elements of the business that will let you move to the new normal. It is also a huge benefit to also be able to view your infrastructure and workloads with fresh, experienced, expert eyes who can offer advice and insight on best practice and bring new innovation to your organisation.
There is no doubt that while COVID-19 has placed an incredible strain on many, it has also provided a significant opportunity to review operations and make bold choices on how and where resource and skill can be redistributed for best value. Moving some of those operations and workloads into the public cloud could be a game changer, allowing business not only to emerge from the current challenge but to emerge lighter, faster, and more agile.
By Vicky Glynn, Brightsolid product manager