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Cloud computing strategies in a post COVID world

Ramanan Ramakrishna
    Ramanan Ramakrishna

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact UK industries, enterprise leaders are beginning to ponder whether their current cloud computing models are fit for purpose in a post-pandemic world. Legacy workloads, shifting patterns of network access, customisations and higher security needs are among the many considerations that are impacting business decisions when choosing cloud services, in order to adapt to the new normal.

The pandemic has made it amply clear that flexible cloud deployment is critical for an organisation’s long-term sustainability and profitability. It will also enable enterprises to be more agile and adaptable with their workloads, processes and the support they can give to their remote workforce.

To ensure that companies are ready for the ‘new normal’, the C-suite must think about the following potential Cloud-related challenges and how they can overcome them.

Impact of virtual organisations

Working from home has become commonplace for the majority of employees across the country as we all attempt to social distance. For organisations that have already adopted cloud infrastructure, the switch to remote working has eased employees’ ability to access office services and platforms, no matter where they are based. However, a big worry for the C-Suite now is whether current levels of cloud computing are sufficient and resilient enough to service an increased demand as more people work from home on potentially a full-time basis? The increased demand includes testing system capability and business continuity plans, allocating additional resources to areas where there is increased demand and thinking about how to keep the IT infrastructure secure at all times.

Going back to the pre-COVID level of productivity

As the UK government eases the lockdown, leadership teams across organisations will be actively looking for safer ways to bring employees back to the office and finding the best way to keep productivity levels up, while ensuring that social distancing is adhered to. Many employees may look to continue to work from home in the medium to long-term, while others aim to get back into the office earlier – the C-Suite need to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to serve both sets of employees so that businesses can continue as usual and the switch is seamless without the need for different tooling and processes.

It is foreseeable that employees operating away from the workplace or returning from furlough will have different needs and motivation levels compared to pre-COVID 19 times, when they were based at the business premises. To help with this, technologies like cloud computing will be key in making the right tools available to the workspace, meeting business needs and ensuring a boost in employee productivity.  In addition to tooling and environment, careful attention and empathy needs to be given to returning furloughed employees to ease them back into productive work as motivational levels might have dropped due to being off work for no fault of their own.

Financial implications on restart from Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the following lockdown have changed how businesses function, causing disproportionate impact in different sectors. While some businesses have lost market sharethers have had to suspend operations temporarily. As a result of  this, one huge worry for the C-suite when the business restarts after Covide-19 is to strike a balance between clearing the backlog of critical business functionality which were put on hold during the pandemic, against driving down OPEX costs so that the costs saved can be fed back into the business. This financial balancing act is a big worry that CFOs and CIOs need to deal with quickly. Cloud offers the unique opportunity to right-size the infrastructure and the licensing side of the business can help in achieving this balance through releasing valuable OPEX, thereby enabling the delay of larger spend initiatives while funding the immediate needs

Cloud acceleration & optimisation

Along with deploying innovations in the business, cloud can make companies resilient in the short term by navigating through extreme spikes or drops in demand. For example, retailers like Carrefour have been confronted with 300 percent increases in an unusual demand for digital commerce. Realising how cloud can help, as businesses cope with the operational challenges arising from the current situation, many have chosen to accelerate their adoption of digital tools and techniques, particularly the cloud, to stay engaged with both employees and customers. This is particularly visible in the small brick & mortar businesses like farm shops and other local entrepreneurial establishments who very quickly transformed to an online cloud-based commerce presence within days and managed to stay afloat. Some large enterprises accelerated the deployment of cloud-based technology and migrated apps to cloud within months which were previously expected to be spread over years

As identified in the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report, due to COVID-19, cloud adoption is accelerating with usage expected to exceed previous forecasts. With the sudden increase in adoption, the CIO is concerned about how to shorten the timescales of adopting the technology and how to sustain the momentum set. This concern is on top of the C-suite’s agenda as failure to deliver a credible and agile cloud migration plan can cause significant overrun on budgets and risk not delivering the results they expected.  A credible cloud migration strategy entails documenting sufficient clarity on the key objectives of what the migration is set out to achieve (immediate cost reduction and/or long-term business agility and/or leverage of emerging technology etc.). In addition, a good cloud strategy should strive to rationalise and “cloud native” the application and infrastructure estate during this migration and avoid a lift & shift of legacy as-is. Given the speed and scale of what’s involved, migrations can derail in countless ways if they are not carefully organised in a well thought through manner- causing irrecoverable damage, especially in times like the current environment.

As businesses are having to re-plan in order to re-open, in many cases the C-suite is having to go back to the drawing board to adapt to the demands of the ‘new normal’. Previous planning just does not fit the post pandemic world as they cannot endorse old ways of working anymore