A PRAGMATIC APPROACH TO THE POST-PANDEMIC RUN ON CLOUD COMPUTING
It’s not every day that more than a third of the world’s population is asked to stay home. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our society overnight, as people have begun to confine themselves to protect themselves from the virus. It has also changed the way people work, accelerating an already growing telecommuting trend. So what effect did the lockdown have on business mobility?
For many organizations, the first challenge was equipping employees who had never worked from home before. The companies had three alternatives:
Each alternative had its drawbacks. The first led to logistical problems, as the demand for mobile equipment was high, and it was not always easy to find. This situation was aggravated by the drop in production in Asia and air transport limitation, which caused the “perfect storm” in the decrease in supply.
According to data published by the consulting firm Context, during the second quarter of 2020, large computer manufacturers increased their sales by more than 55% in the Eastern European area, compared to the previous year.
Context maintains that computer sales grew 87% during confinement, which places Spain in the second position in the sales ranking in Europe, behind Italy.
The second alternative (for employees to take their personal computers home to telework) also posed problems since not everyone has laptops at work and desktop computers are not easy to transport. It is also necessary to find out what data these teams hold and keep a record of those that leave the office.
We saw how one in three of our clients opted for the third option: ask their employees to access company resources using their personal computers to telecommute; something that often leads to security problems, as in these environments corporate and personal data can be easily mixed and employees lack control over a personal device. Our software helped them resolve this situation, delimiting secure and company-managed work areas on their mobile devices, thus preserving their personal privacy and the corporate environment’s security.
About the laptop’s use, we can say that one in four clients opted to allow their employees to use their personal computers. Regarding the mobile phone, three out of four customers allowed their employees to use their home phone to set up corporate mail. Many companies are overcoming the pandemic’s harsh lessons that they did not even imagine possible four months ago.
We are barely recovering, and at some point, things will go back to almost normal… hopefully. We learned that certain companies fared better than others during the COVID-19 turmoil. In nine out of ten cases, these companies successfully leveraged the cloud to navigate the rapid IT changes needed during the pandemic.Many companies have learned difficult lessons. I suspect more will come. Businesses discovered more about cloud computing’s benefits and limitations in the past four months than in the previous two years. Here are three of the great learnings that I constantly see
Clouds are more important than we thought.
Cloud operations have been an afterthought for many companies, even after implementation. Most IT organizations paid attention to it, but Clouddop’s best practices and technology usage have been limited by small budgets and a general lack of understanding.
The increased use of public cloud providers and access to cloud systems by a remote, widely distributed workforce highlighted the need for talent and operational tools. While self-healing capabilities became imperative in dealing with cloud-scale, companies lacked the tools to automate self-healing processes and the talent to configure them.
Business API strategies are needed.
Data integration has gone from pleasant to essential in a time of rapid change. Furthermore, companies need to share services that link behavior to data. Both problems are solved by leveraging well-secured and governed APIs. Some systems have APIs, such as those provided by SaaS providers. However, for most custom cloud-based business applications, the APIs that provide access to system data and services are simply non-existent. Therefore, integrations must occur using unique processes that will not scale as the business needs to change due to pandemic issues.
Extending security from the cloud to remote workers is more difficult than we thought.
Although cloud security teams were already dealing with some remote workers, companies quickly discovered that an employee’s home network is not the company network. Problems like VPN, virtual private clouds, encryption, and legal compliance around data suddenly emerged as vulnerabilities around cloud security began to appear, thanks to a completely remote workforce. The security teams just weren’t prepared.
They worked quickly to establish new policies, training and take advantage of better technology. The reality is that the risk of default increased from .0001 percent for most companies to .2 percent within a few weeks. I guess the silver lining is that we are probably better cloud implementers and users now. And that we are about to see this crisis in our rearview mirror. If we can learn from our mistakes, we will be fine.
What companies learned
We see that companies learned several key lessons from this crisis. The first is that the nature of work is changing. Having had to adapt so quickly to teleworking, we dare to say that they will not be in such a rush to return to the status quo before. For some companies, the business’s very nature will change, such as retailers, which will have to innovate to accommodate social distancing. Therefore, we anticipate an increase in contactless payments, which will make mobile devices even more necessary for transactions.
We believe that more and more companies will begin to explore Unified Management of Work Devices and how to manage mobile devices and the applications that host those devices. This will occur as they evolve from ad hoc remote work environments to more permanent and systematic work models, in which employees who telecommute for longer periods require higher quality professional technical support.
The experience of confinement has highlighted the importance of cloud computing. Companies that were not using the cloud during the pandemic were unwilling to start doing so at a time of crisis that forced them to deal with all sorts of massive changes. As panic begins to subside, we expect businesses to assess this opportunity more closely in the medium term and increase cloud technology adoption.
We also believe that access has to change, as passwords are starting to be uncomfortable. And especially in today’s world, in which we have had to live with the experience of the coronavirus; surely, mobile users – who most often work remotely – are not going to tolerate entering passwords at the stroke of the thumb … something that, on the other hand, they would not have to do either.
We will need more robust and comfortable access mechanisms based on phone biometrics, multifactor authentication, and logins by context to make remote mobile work more secure and fluid, which only 10% of companies do nowadays. We are confident that the remaining 90% will consider it soon.
Businesses have long lived with telecommuting and mobile computing, but we have just witnessed a drastic change in the way they understand it. It took a global event like COVID-19 for something like this to happen, and with only one guarantee: the workplace will never be the same again.