Many companies have hesitated in the migration of at least some (usually legacy) applications to the cloud, citing obstacles that include costs, security and the level of resources required. But as we’ve all been reminded recently, large-scale disasters have a way of quickly sharpening society’s focus on the most essential functions. That focus also translates to each and every business.
The reality is that, for years, large cloud providers have dramatically outpaced the broader market in economies of scale for infrastructure hardware and software. As the impending economic headwinds force companies to prioritize their most critical functions, moving workloads to the cloud is a logical next step. It’s nearly impossible to be as prepared to handle hardware or service failure as well as major cloud providers do.
If the global economy continues to contract, we should expect that companies will accelerate migrations out of their in-house data centers so that they can shift internal focus back to their fundamental competitive differentiators.
With the COVID-19 virus putting millions of more people into the “working from home” category, cloud service providers are being put to the test. In response, global cloud leaders are stress-testing their infrastructure and activating pandemic-specific resiliency testing procedures, research from Forrester indicates.
Both Forrester and research firm GlobalData have published assessments of the impact of the crisis on cloud services. Forrester noted the following efforts in its March 12 report:
- Amazon Web Services has included pandemic response in its resiliency planning and regularly scales to handle spikes in demand, such as on Black Friday. Pandemic response policies and procedures have been incorporated into disaster recovery planning. Measures have been taken to ensure ample capacity and service continuity.
- Google Cloud has formed an internal working group to plan for and mitigate against business impacts resulting from COVID-19. The company expressed confidence its systems can continue to support customers during this time.
- Microsoft Azure has seen a 500 percent increase in meetings, calling, and conferences on its Teams remote collaboration platform since January 31. In the same time frame, it has seen a 200 percent increase in Teams usage on mobile devices. The company maintains cloud service availability by running multiple instances in geographically dispersed locations.
Forrester advises cloud users not to panic about cloud capacity, given the past decade of massive cloud buildouts. While the long-term impact of how people will work in the future is unclear, the pandemic offers a powerful case study and a first look at the promise of cloud computing.
GlobalData sees COVID-19 spurring demand for not only cloud computing, but also other IT solutions such as edge computing. While cloud technology providers such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon might benefit from COVID-19 over a 12-month period, second-tier and tertiary IaaS (infrastructure as a service) providers with less reliable customer bases could lose out, as could cloud service and infrastructure providers whose businesses depend on vulnerable industries hit by the economic fallout.
“As businesses shutter their brick and mortar operations and, where they can, transition to a remote workforce, it is clear how important the cloud is for continuity of operations,” GlobalData said. “Any organization that actively resisted digitalization is now confronted with a harsh reality. This puts cloud providers in a strong position.”