How Can Accelerating Cloud Migration Help Businesses Weather The COVID-19 Storm?
The impacts of COVID-19 is turning a business’s strength into weakness and weaknesses into strengths almost overnight. In this post, Cloudreach's Rob Duffy discusses how, rather than slowing down their cloud adoption initiatives, leaders could tackle some of their current challenges by accelerating their cloud migration.
Typically, the first priority of most business leaders, in the face of COVID-19, has been to ensure their employees are safe. Then, they have done everything they can to help their customers, user population, and the community where they live and work. Now they can look inward, and take the opportunity to reflect on the impact of the last few weeks and start to stabilize their business for the near and short-term.
This is no easy task. For many leaders, the business they are looking at today is a very different beast to the one they were running a month ago. The pandemic has been like economic Jiu-Jitsu, turning strength into weakness and weaknesses into strengths almost overnight. Think of physical grocery stores that relied on footfall and allowed customers to touch their inventory. In 2019 that was an advantage over online-grocery shopping businesses. Now, in 2020 - with social distancing measures in place globally - that is a huge liability as many consumers are turning to online grocery stores to order food from the safety of their homes. With no way of knowing just how long social distancing will be necessary, it is fair to suggest that these trends are not going away any time soon and could even continue after we have weathered the COVID-19 storm.
This crisis has prompted all leaders to reconsider their business and processes. To figure out how they can respond now and adapt quickly to new styles of work and react to new competition. They have also had to realign costs with revenue and, in some cases, completely pivot their business to stay relevant to their customers.
With its utility pricing, the elasticity of capacity and unlimited scale, this event is a perfect case study on why businesses should adopt Cloud.
From strategic to tactical
Until now, most cloud migrations have been part of wider, digital transformation strategies, where a business is trying to pivot to tap a new market or move from B2B to B2C etc. The focus of cloud migrations, within these initiatives, was predominantly on front-end, customer-centric applications, enabling scale and agility to add new features. COVID-19 is pushing businesses to be less strategic with their migration initiatives and more tactical. They are moving fast to overcome immediate problems and challenges. This could involve migrating a single app or their entire estate. Just getting to the cloud can provide benefits and flexibility that these teams need right now.
Think of the surges in demand for certain digital platforms over the past few weeks. Take the online education platform, Kahn Academy, for example. As schools have closed, and students are expected to learn from home, the website has experienced a 250% surge in users. That demand would be hard to support if the platform wasn’t cloud-based and couldn’t scale elastically.
Tactically moving certain apps to the cloud right now can help business pivot or double down on services that previously required less capacity.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, many businesses (in travel and hospitality especially) are needing to scale down their systems and operating costs. A tactical move to the cloud can also help businesses optimize and address crucial imbalances between cost and revenue.
Don’t forget the back end
The COVID-19 pandemic has also laid bare the vulnerability of not using the cloud to manage the back-end systems of an IT estate. Many businesses will have applications that provide critical functions but have not been designated for modernization or migration. In a world without COVID-19, it may have been judged that these systems and applications did not need the extra flexibility and accessibility that the cloud affords; they were deemed good enough as they were. In our current reality, if maintaining your infrastructure relies on your team having access to a physical data center, you may be facing a lot of previously unforeseen issues. Local social distancing measures may well be limiting access to these facilities. You could be facing hardware supply-chain issues that prevent maintenance and scale-up work. Most importantly, there is the health and welfare of your workforce to think about - is working in a data center putting them at risk of infection?
How much safer and easier would it be right now to set up your back end in the cloud - and entrust data center maintenance to your chosen cloud provider.
Action is the only way forward
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic.” – Peter Drucker
In turbulent times like this, the natural reaction could be to wait and lay low. However, I think this is a once in a generation kind of economic event that can really upend entire industries. The ability to adapt and utilize the technology available will be pivotal to many businesses staying afloat and, in some cases, thriving. We are already seeing this kind of adaptation in a variety of industries. Look at what media companies are doing, putting out movies online, and skipping the theater. The studios that make these changes and investments will be at an advantage, the ones that resist will be left behind, possibly forever. The fitness industry is seeing an extreme acceleration of the growth of online services with connected devices at the expense of brick and mortar gyms. Peloton has seen its stock rise over the last month. Many small gym owners are moving their classes online to compete. In the context of cloud, a business that can migrate quickly, scale as needed, and launch new services to address new market demands, will gain a considerable advantage.
Build toward flexibility
As I mentioned in a previous blog, the COVID-19 pandemic is asking IT leaders to make challenging decisions, under chaotic circumstances. These circumstances leave little time for discovery and require immediate action with an act-sense-respond approach. What you need to be building towards is flexibility. You cannot assume that things are going to go back to how they were. You may not even need to know right now what your new business model is going to be. However, you can be sure that it is going to involve innovation and you need to move towards that as your foundation. The cloud is the perfect platform upon which to build that foundation.