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The Silver Lining Behind COVID-19: The Cloud

While collaboration tools and online shopping and entertainment took center stage in the early days of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the cloud worked behind the scenes to enable remote work and entertainment. Video conferencing, remote project collaboration, and streaming services (just to name a few) utilize the cloud to meet unparalleled levels of demand that would have been impossible to meet until fairly recently. Cloud infrastructure solutions have made it possible for businesses around the world to quickly scale operations to meet this unprecedented level of demand.

 

So what’s driving the increased demand for the cloud?

  • The cloud gives employees the flexibility to work from any location, which has proven particularly useful right now.
  • As online, remote usage grows, extra application capacity is required to keep up, and cloud solutions are more equipped to keep up than on-prem solutions.
  • Layoffs, difficulty in accessing on-prem facilities, and delays in supply chain for hardware are a few external factors that may be spurring some to speed up their migration to the cloud.
  • The cloud offers more reliability for disaster recovery and business continuity than on-premise solutions.
  • The cloud has been shown to lower total cost of ownership, encourage innovation, enhance efficiency, and more, which in turn may allow a company to expand into new industries or create new sources of revenue.
  • An on-prem security breach can compromise data if hardware is stolen. If data is housed on the cloud, critical data can be deleted or moved significantly easier.
  • As they look to reduce fixed costs to recover financially from coronavirus, businesses may reassess the need for on-premise datacenters.

Big data, enabled by the cloud, actually helped to predict the coronavirus outbreak. Three weeks before the Chinese government issued travel restrictions, Canadian company BlueDot’s geofencing platform took in data across web articles, social media, online communications, and text messages to catch early warning signs of an outbreak, which they then relayed to the World Health Organization. Later, using data such as airline schedules combined with AI and ML, they were even able to predict where the disease was headed and warn those areas. Big data like this requires big storage capacity, and cloud computing has presented the world with unique tools like this to fight the outbreak that wouldn’t have been possible even a few short years ago.

 

The cloud may even play a significant role in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Historically, doctors and researchers have been constrained by on-prem infrastructure that can only store so much data and run so many applications at a time. The cloud allows them to increase capacity exponentially without costing them the time and financial investment of equipment procurement and deployment. Similarly, whereas healthcare organizations had been held back by their inability to easily share data because of their on-premise infrastructure, the cloud creates unprecedented transparency and data sharing potential. Cloud computing also enables healthcare providers in the field to easily transmit data to researchers, and the ability to both share and access a huge pool of testing data streamlines processes and eliminates potential roadblocks and redundancies. With the cloud, healthcare organizations can increase processing capacity and utilize applications that would have been cost- and time-prohibitive to purchase and operate privately to process the massive datasets involved in biomedical research.

 

What some are calling the “largest-ever remote work experiment” has brought the cloud migration conversation to the forefront, as many are seeing the benefits of the cloud’s ability to scale up to meet the needs of a changing workforce and biomedical research. Whereas corporate spending in the short term initially focused on solving immediate needs such as collaboration tools, as the world begins to recover and plan for a more remote-friendly future, the demand for the cloud—and all of the benefits it offers—will only increase.

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