Remote working provides boost to cloud computing

Sid Nag, VP Analyst, Cloud Services, Gartner, Inc, advises cloud service providers to prepare for the new normal of a more permanent remote workforce in the rebound phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cloud providers can demonstrate the inherent strength and adaptability of their services by sharing cultural tips for how remote work at a massive scale must be done.

The onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced organisations to rethink the way they work and operate. Only 18% of IT leaders believe their businesses are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus, according to a March 2020 Gartner webinar survey. In a couple of months, businesses had to reinvent themselves, reset their IT priorities and renew for the next phase of disruption.

In 2020, the use of videoconferencing and other digital collaboration tools has stressed the limits of backend support services, many of which are cloud-based, and significantly increased the volume of traffic in the networks connecting users to their services. This trend is likely to continue, as recent Gartner survey results show 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to remote work on a permanent basis.

Most corporate networks are not prepared for the onslaught of remote work being driven by COVID-19 (aka coronavirus disease). While companies have spent money to build out their existing capacity to handle remote work, few have come close to provisioning capacity many times their established norms.

Customers’ concerns about performance problems that are building due to the increased load of remote workers are not initially focused on the hyperscale cloud providers. Instead, customers are noting slowdowns in connections and bandwidth limitations in their normal workplace and collaboration applications.

Many in the workforce do not have a position that is conducive to remote working (e.g., cafeteria workers and janitorial services). Consequently, the microeconomies associated with office complexes are being impacted as remote workers stay away.

Now is the right time to move to cloud

Cloud computing is well positioned to survive, and even thrive, during the coronavirus crisis. Cloud providers can demonstrate the inherent strength and adaptability of their services by sharing cultural tips for how remote work at a massive scale must be done. Offering cloud-based collaboration tools at a discount or for free is a good start as we’ve seen Cisco Webex, Google, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom do already.

Segmenting and prioritizing workloads, especially those that produce significant networking traffic, is recommended in order to balance the immediate needs of stay-at-home workers with processes that can execute with a lower priority.

The swell of remote employees provides an opportunity for cloud providers to affect a sea of change in how much digital work becomes the norm rather than the exception — using their cloud.

3 immediate actions for CSPs

Here are three actions cloud providers must ensure they are taking to support end users and deliver uninterrupted service during the COVID-19 pandemic, if they aren’t already.

  1. Ease customers’ concerns by demonstrating a strong ability to handle spikes to both their VPNs and cloud-supported applications that are brought on by rapid increases in remote workers.
  2. Build customer confidence by both stress-testing cloud data centers, networks and services and releasing the results of such testing to customers.
  3. Prevent both financial and work hardships during the COVID-19 outbreak period by practicing customer engagement and employee philanthropy to act as a stopgap.

CSPs should prepare for the new normal of a more permanent remote workforce in the rebound phase of the pandemic.

It will be important to plan for new services and applications that will spawn as a result of this, such as those based on virtual reality and other advanced technologies that will serve as core underpinnings of the new work environment in the post-pandemic era.

How can MSEs make the most of this opportunity?

According to Gartner research, 75% of midsize enterprises (MSEs) base their cloud sourcing decision on inadequate financial information and cost savings expectations. MSE CIOs must understand the practical benefit that they will be able to realize and adjust their cloud strategy accordingly.

They need to understand that it does not take much in terms of absolute dollars to represent a double-digit increase to a typical MSE IT budget of US$ 5-10 million, of which 37% is dedicated to personnel.

To deploy cloud solutions successfully in an MSE environment, CIOs must:

  1. Eliminate IT time spent maintaining on-premises infrastructure by adopting secure, cost-effective, cloud-based alternatives.
  2. Address their organization’s disaster recovery objectives by identifying cloud-based alternatives to conventional disaster recovery solutions.
  3. Improve business and IT operational effectiveness through prescriptive adoption of cloud services.
  4. Deploy or migrate workload to cloud services by making a definitive determination that desired operating expenditures and business outcomes will be achieved.

Sid Nag, VP Analyst, Cloud Services, Gartner, IncSid Nag is a Vice President in the Technology and Service Provider group at Gartner, focused on cloud services and cloud technologies from the vendor, service provider as well as the buyer perspective. Mr. Nag’s areas of focus include public cloud, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, CIPS, cloud trends, cloud market insights, cloud product strategy, cloud marketing strategy, cloud go to market, cloud brokerage, cloud migration, cloud managed services and cloud networking.

Among other cloud-related coverage, he provides thought leadership for the Gartner public-cloud market share and the public-cloud forecast research programs. He is a member of the Gartner Cloud Leadership Council. Mr. Nag is Gartner’s most widely quoted analyst in the press including Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg. Mr. Nag is currently the Gartner Vendor Lead Analyst for Dell.

Mr. Nag came to Gartner from Dell, where he held the role of Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy, driving strategic direction for initiatives with major technology and alliance partners as well as global system integrator for cloud, virtualization and integrated systems. While at Dell, he also spent two years as Senior Director of Product Management and Marketing for Cloud Services and Networking Consulting Services.

Prior to joining Dell, he spent six years at Cisco in various leadership roles, focused on competitive strategy, business development and technology sales. During his career, he was the Founder and CEO of Prominence Networks, a startup focused on software-defined networking and collaboration technologies. He took Prominence to an exit after seven years, resulting in the sale of the company. Mr. Nag started his career at AT&T Bell Labs, where he held various leadership roles in engineering, research and business development.

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