Pandemic Lockdown and the Necessity of the Cloud
Before 2019, digital transformation among businesses was splayed along the usual bellcurve. Some companies were riding the cutting edge, many were partly on the cloud, and the usual handful were lagging behind still using paper documents and locally secured servers. Thousands of businesses were migrating their operations to the cloud – virtual servers accessible from anywhere – and millions more were happily outsourcing some of their processes to cloud-based SaaS providers. During that period, not so long ago, local networks and servers were still considered industry-standard. Access meant approved connection to the physical network and servers – often through specific allowed entrypoints and devices. Cybersecurity meant hardening the building and specific remote-but-physical servers from hackers gaining access to the network itself. Then the pandemic hit.
Suddenly, millions of employees were sent to work from home and they became unable to directly access the company’s on-site (in-building) network or the data servers therein. Suddenly, logging into a secured workstation inside the office building was not an option and even remote physical servers became less accessible due to the initial cybersecurity restrictions they were designed with. In many cases, businesses became unable to complete their usual workflow with employees working from home simply because they had little to no cloud-based infrastructure that could be accessed from personal computers in employee homes. Something had to be done.
The Cloud’s Meteoric Rise
In the wake of lockdowns and work-at-home orders, businesses were forced to quickly adopt cloud platform tools that could be accessed from employees’ personal devices. Having a local system with on-network logins just wasn’t going to fly. Businesses that offered cloud methods to stay connected and productive (ex: Zoom) exploded with new users from teams all over the world trying to keep the wheels on the economic wagon.
In that time, SaaS services and platforms became a necessity instead of just a convenience. Many companies that had excellent business software installed on their local systems had to switch to new software that could be accessed remotely from the vast array of employee homes and personal devices. The Cloud experienced a meteoric rise in popularity and use simply because it was the perfect technology to help companies stay in business by allowing at-home employees to keep doing their jobs.
We saw a rise in cloud-everything as companies adapted to the pandemic, including an explosion of new software and pandemic-era updates specifically designed to help at-home teams. Platforms that were once mainly consumer-oriented developed business plans. Services that were originally small-scale scaled up to accommodate entire companies. The cloud went from a cool optional set of tools for startups and cutting-edge enterprises to a must-have way of doing business with suddenly all-remote teams.
Cloud Computing’s Role in Pandemic-Era Business
Of course, the cloud is a vast nebulous concept of services and servers. From mobile apps to enterprise management, businesses have their pick of which cloud resourced to turn into their new remote-friendly workflow. While tools and apps have been extremely popular, the big winner for the business world has been cloud computing.
Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, primarily data storage and actual computing power. When cut off from on-site servers, many businesses also needed to redirect the work those servers were doing to a cloud-based location that could be managed with an at-home team. Cloud computing can be seen in services like Azure and AWS, providing a combination of virtual servers and server-like services through a cloud platform. These servers can be accessed and run from anywhere and are not specifically tied to any one physical server – making them more resilient and flexible in terms of both access and resource allotment.
Businesses with serious tech and their own cloud services to provide have moved to rely almost entirely on cloud computing resources to both manage the company and to provide access to clients.
The Future is Cloudy
For a while, the opinion among industries was that the pandemic would pass as everyone caught and became immune to the virus. However, with new strains being discovered every month and some people contracting different COVID-variants more than once, we don’t see an end to virus-safe business practices any time soon. This means that remote teams are not a temporary stop-gap measure, they are here to stay – and so is the predominance of the cloud.
We know that businesses will continue to focus on cloud computing for these two powerful reasons. First, office workers are still safer working from home than they would be wearing masks in the office. And second – once a business and all its employees have invested in remote-ready infrastructure (cloud computing and home offices), the most productivity lies in making use of that investment. Even with office buildings opening again, we are seeing thousands of employers choosing to maintain their new remote workflow instead – which means continued use of their established cloud resources.
5 Trends Transforming Cloud Computing
Let’s take a peek at what the future holds for cloud computing. In the last year of digital transformation across global industries, we’ve seen several profound tech trends that are set to transform cloud computing as we use it in the future.
The first and most obvious is the growth of SaaS and SaaS-like services. P(latform)aaS, I(nfrastructure)aaS, and so on have become an essential part of the new normal. Current SaaS providers have inflated significantly and it’s no surprise that startups are trending toward providing remote, cloud-based SaaS products as well.
Competition Between Major Cloud Providers
We are also seeing a huge amount of competition between the major cloud computing providers including Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud all have similar offerings in terms of virtual servers, storage, computing power, and server-adjacent tools. Each is competing to be the top provider for cloud computing services and we, the business public, are the ultimate winners. More resources, greater selection, and more attentive account management have been the primary results. We are also seeing admirable competition for best-AI services from these providers.
Speaking of servers, one of the big trends in cloud computing is leaving the old-fashioned idea of business servers behind. Right now, companies can choose between (or combine) the options of opening a virtual server run similarly to a physical server or simply taking advantage of direct cloud computing conveniences like storage and raw computing power for certain functions. While your coders will lead the way on making use of serverless computing, the trend frees businesses from the need to use specific operating systems and architecture to make their cloud tech-stack work with high performance.
Multi-Cloud and Joint-Cloud Partnerships
The hybrid-cloud trend is a natural result of so many cloud services available and in high demand. On one side, you have businesses combining multiple cloud servers, services, and platforms to make a new all-remote tech stack unique to their business needs. On the other is cloud services partnering up as they realize that they can gain more business with often-combined bundles than by selling their products separately to the same demographic of business customers.
Security and Disaster Recovery Regulations
Finally, cloud services are embracing security regulations and many make it possible for companies to remain in compliance with the big regulations that apply to their industry – PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA being the most prominent. Each regulation that relates to cybersecurity includes rules on encryption, data handling, and disaster recovery advisements. Cloud services that are well-secured can provide that same standard of security to each business that makes use of them, and the cloud is ideal for disaster recovery because there is no single server that could be wiped with the cloud’s multi-point reference system already in place.
Cloud computing is not just on the rise, it’s not just the future of remote server management. It’s the set of tools that most businesses need to survive during the pandemic era of remote work and remote customers.