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How a Pandemic Became the Cloud’s Best Friend

How a Pandemic Became the Cloud’s Best Friend

By Chris Burns McBeth, Senior Solutions Architect, cStor


Pandemic Cloud Usage

When word first hit the streets about COVID-19, there wasn’t really any immediate understanding of what that meant. I, for one, couldn’t have foreseen the complete closure of entire states with most employers pivoting quickly to a remote workforce and desperately looking for easier ways of managing their IT landscapes without boots on the ground.

Some of us in the Information Technology industry were lucky in the sense we already had the tools and technology to do our jobs virtually, but for some organizations, the transition to a remote workforce has been a tectonic shift in the way they do business.

tec·ton·ic | \ tek-ˈtä-nik \: having a strong and widespread impact

Back in the good old days of 2019, the question of whether or not the cloud was right for your organization would have been answered with careful analysis of operating environments. Each of those environments has unique requirements, so there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution, and it’s not something to rush into… there’s just too much at stake!

That’s why most organizations embarked on Cloud Readiness assessments and bought other consulting services to ensure they were well-informed and making smart choices as they adopted more and more of what the cloud has to offer. But assessments take time, and what if time is a luxury we suddenly don’t have? What happens when an unforeseen pandemic comes along and forces the hand of just about every business that relies on technology?

The Shift in Cloud Adoption Drivers

Because of this pandemic, the “traditional” decision-making processes formerly driven by technical requirements are now driven (at least partially) by a new prime consideration: the health of your workforce, which was previously something associated with HR or the local pub! With the health of employees now a top consideration driving remote workforce and cloud adoption, these migrations have been dramatically accelerated. And that’s not just my opinion, there are a bunch of studies and surveys easily found on the web that state the same thing.

Whether or not it’s a permanent shift is yet to be seen, but my gut says it will be. I believe that because a lot of traditional organizations have found their workforce remained productive and their company remained competitive as long as they also included efforts to 1) keep remote employees engaged with regular communication, and 2) provided them with collaboration and productivity tools accessible on their own devices (BYOD laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.). This is based on the idea that the easier we make it for employees to access and share information, the more productive they will be… of course that also begs for some pretty serious cybersecurity protection.

This new paradigm in swift IT cloud adoption has definitely introduced risk, but that’s where partners like cStor have provided valuable, real-world guidance and experience. It’s the technological equivalent of letting your little brother go down the hill on his skateboard first… let us show you where the potholes are so you don’t break your arms or knock out your teeth!

There is a myriad of valid reasons why organizations still host computing infrastructure onsite or in a self-managed colocation, but this pandemic exposed a new flaw with that strategy: it requires boots on the ground!

During the COVID-19 recovery period, most – if not all – organizations have to consider new rules on who can be onsite, when they can go in limited numbers, and usually require Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that can be costly and hard to source. Frankly, I think a lot of the urgency is also driven by the uncertainty (liability) of exposing employees to a deadly virus. Regardless of why, the fact is this virus has made it impractical for many businesses to continue onsite operations and maintenance of their own infrastructure.

Quickly Pivoting to Cloud and SaaS

So, if internally hosted and maintained data centers are on the outs, what’s the new “in”?

Unsurprisingly it’s the hyperscale cloud platforms. AWS is on top of that leaderboard, and although Cloud certainly isn’t “new” per se, the acceleration to adopt it certainly is. In one study published on ComputerWeekly.com, more than three-quarters (76%) of respondents said Covid-19 led to an increase in spending on private and public cloud infrastructure services, including those offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. Although the march toward all-things-cloud was already well on its way, a recent survey done by Flexera shows conclusively how the pandemic has accelerated things with 59% of enterprises adopting at a rate slightly or significantly higher.

Change from Planned Cloud Usage Due to Covid-19

Earlier this year, cStor was approached by a very large government entity that needed to accelerate its transition to the AWS GovCloud. Their transition was driven by many factors including:

  1. Reducing the need for on-site technical personnel (alleviating risk to onsite workers).
    1. Operational readiness and national security are negatively impacted.
  2. Improving and simplifying disaster recovery capabilities.
    1. Their primary and secondary data centers were threatened by recent wildfires.
  3. Improving flexibility, maximizing resources, minimizing waste, etc.
    1. Expensive monolithic infrastructure often sits unused for years until they grow into it.
  4. Getting away from the endless cycle of hardware refresh, storage growth and depreciation.
    1. Resources spent on indefinitely managing the IT lifecycle have become onerous.
  5. Needing to focus on organizational goals and objectives.
    1. This agency is critical to national security, and the underlying architecture to run their critical applications is irrelevant as long as it can be used safely and securely.

There are a lot of reasons why cloud migrations fail, which is why finding a partner with experience is critical. We can help you avoid failures caused by things like incompatibilities, loss of data integrity, lack of proper planning, unplanned downtime, choosing the wrong options, buying more than you need and manpower.

Let’s face it, the 2020 pandemic caught us with our proverbial pants down. The pandemic forced many of us to dramatically accelerate our transition to cloud-based products and services, and so far we’ve done a pretty darn good job of pivoting. So, maybe, just maybe, some good will come of this whole thing and we’ll actually be ready for the next one.

I think if we work together, we can make that happen.

Chris Burns McBeth
About Chris Burns McBeth
Chris served as a decorated Marine Combat Engineer during the first Gulf War and has since gone on to earn a Master’s Degree in Information Systems summa cum laude. He is a member of the FBI Infragard and has distinguished himself as a trusted technical advisor over the past 25 years with employers including Bechtel, GTE, AT&T, Computer Associates, VMware, SunGard Availability Services, and most recently cStor. Chris has several technical articles published on FORBES and CIO, and holds multiple Professional Certifications including Cisco CCNP, Palo Alto PCCSA, NetApp NCSA, HPE ASE Server Solutions Architect v4.0, and AWS Technical Professional, among others. He likes astrophotography, motorcycles, bass fishing, and speed-boating with his wife of 25 years.

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