Global pandemics aren’t new to the world, and the fact that we are experiencing one right now isn’t new to the human condition. But because pandemics aren’t common, either, many of them serve as punctuation marks between different eras. Most of us have heard the names of some of history’s larger pandemics: the Spanish Flu (1918-1920), the Third Plague (1855-1959) and the Black Death (1347-1351).
What is uniquely different about COVID-19 is the way in which we’re experiencing it. We can see and learn everything about this pandemic — its impact, its story and our collective stories around it — in real-time. This is something that could never have happened without the current state of technology in the world, powered by the cloud. From streaming news (and entertainment – especially for those sheltering in place) to data collection, analysis, and response coordination, the cloud and the underlying Internet have completely changed the way the world is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the speed of modern business to the rapid response to COVID-19 enabling millions of people to work remotely, it’s hard to imagine a world without cloud technology. At no other point in time has there ever been such a need for the instant availability of IT resources enabled by the cloud than during this coronavirus pandemic. The cloud continues to transform connectivity between people and businesses on a global scale. The cloud is everywhere; in our vehicles, on our television screens, in our phones, and even in our watches.
But imagine if the cloud had never happened. Even the little things in life would be radically different, let alone the economies of the world under the COVID-19 curfews. Startup companies come and go, but far fewer companies would exist if not for the cloud – Twitter, Netflix, Uber, and countless more. On a shoestring budget, these companies started up and tested their ideas. Without the cloud, the cost to test these ideas would have quickly thinned out the herd based on the otherwise massive investment needs.
Things We Would Lose
Without the cloud, we couldn’t do many of the things we do every day—a list that has grown exponentially during this global COVID-19 pandemic. For example, it would be more challenging for executives to access real-time business sales information for their companies from anywhere in the world. Companies would also have a harder time sharing and co-editing documents securely, with colleagues across the ocean – and even in their city. Even short physical distances would present a challenge for collaboration between coworkers without the cloud.
There are several other business-critical day-to-day activities and functionalities enabled by the cloud that would be lost, or slowed down if not for modern cloud technologies, including:
Would the financial sector be able to function the way it does without cloud technologies? The answer is certainly no. Without the cloud, an entire world of analytical and trading applications could not operate in real-time.
Could media companies, educational institutions, and global organizations operate and run applications to users across the country, across the world and on a variety of mobile devices? If Netflix didn’t have a rapid, scalable video content delivery system, they would probably still be mailing DVD’s. If Skype didn’t have a dynamic cloud-based quality of service networking, they would likely rely on peer networking. What about Dropbox, or iCloud? Could these everyday services operate at all, let alone scale? The answer is also a resounding no.
Most of us use and rely on smartphones, but they would only be mobile phones if it weren’t for the ubiquitous, rapid experience and access to data that the cloud provides. Business applications would roll back to the days of synchronizing online and offline data off of mobile devices.
From big data to artificial intelligence, rapid data systems power things such as research, analytics, and manufacturing. Cloud orchestrates endpoints together, makes networks uniform, and does these tasks seamlessly so that solutions can quickly emerge for everyday problems and challenges. In today’s world, driving back and forth to the supercomputer isn’t a necessity anymore when the cloud itself is a massive supercomputer.
A Time for Action
Modern organizations have always counted on digital infrastructure to support their businesses. With the onset of restrictions COVID-19 has created, more companies are recognizing the unquestionable value that cloud delivers. Perhaps the most fantastic thing about cloud technologies is the flexible options they provide; even more so now in this time of crisis, when companies need solutions they can implement and test quickly. A vast, never-ending network of cloud-based systems enabled the world around us to stay up and running throughout this pandemic, with very few hiccups. We already see the rapid rise of telemedicine, an industry wholly enabled by secure cloud technologies.
Just how many more other ideas and companies will start with the help of the cloud due to the coronavirus crisis and define how we interact with technology in the post-Covid-19 era? I am confident that as a society, we will innovate our way out of this crisis, and the cloud will continue to be a fundamental enabler for decades to come.