No one really knows when the coronavirus pandemic will finally be brought to an end, and when we’ll return to some semblance of normalcy. Business publication Reuters reported that the head of the World Health Organization said in August that he “hopes” it will last less than two years. Not exactly an optimistic outlook, is it?
By now, most businesses have adjusted at least somewhat to telecommuting. For some, it wasn’t much of an adjustment — they already had the required infrastructure in place. For others, it’s been a wild ride, and they spent the first several months of the pandemic scrambling to offer the required functionality to remote staff.
Even now that things have calmed down, there’s still one nagging concern that many businesses still haven’t quite solved. Simply put, a home network or a personal device does not have the same level of security as you’d find in the workplace. Particularly in regulated industries, this is a problem.
And cloud software offers a compelling solution. Software-as-a-Service platforms can enable quick and easy collaboration, streamlined access to corporate resources, and enhanced workflows, all without sacrificing security. Infrastructure-as-a-Service, meanwhile, can provide businesses both large and small with a much-needed alternative to on-premises systems while offering considerable scalability.
Cloud-based security solutions can even be used to add an extra layer of protection for staff, empowered by artificial intelligence. Because of this, they’re able to shift away from a reactive, signature-based approach towards a more proactive, AI-based one. They also offer the added benefit of a small footprint and are often supported by powerful analytics tools far beyond the capacity of most businesses.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, all these factors together have resulted in considerable growth for cloud providers.
The MIT Technology Review, a magazine owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in June even went as far as saying the cloud has been the key to survival for small and mid-sized businesses.
“We needed to downgrade our servers to save costs, and we also want to increase capacity once the lockdown is over,” Fengping Zeng, Chief Technology Officer of Kopi Kenangan, an Indonesian coffee shop chain told the publication. “As our business grows, customers will have new expectations, requiring more features, a smoother experience, and greater service availability…[There is an obvious need for] robust, resilient, secure, and flexible infrastructures, as well as scalable intelligent tools.”
The cloud provides all of this. For communication, you’ve tools like Slack or Zoom. For virtual desktops, you’ve Amazon Workspaces or Google Cloud. For remote collaboration and project management, there are platforms like Monday, Trello, and Wrike.
In essence, it’s the perfect foundation for distributed work, not in the least because it’s a perfect example of distributed computing. Hardware-agnostic, decentralized, and infinitely scalable, it’s a perfect fit for businesses trying to support a remote workforce during COVID-19. And ultimately, it will prove foundational as more and more businesses shift away from traditional workplaces and towards a remote future.