Technology

Coronavirus is moving the world to the cloud

The world is becoming increasingly reliant on cloud computing as populations are ordered into isolation

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As businesses and governments implement shelter-in-place orders around the globe, people are increasingly using telework, streaming services, and video games supported by the cloud.

Today, there are 100 million Americans under shelter-in-place orders or other movement restrictions, and that number will grow as more government leaders take steps to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Corporations too are mandating that their employees work from home during the outbreak. Ford, Unilever, Google, and Facebook are among thousands of firms that are moving to work-from-home policies.

Even educational institutions are sending students home and implementing online classes in order to finish out the semester.

To help keep business operations running, and to ease the boredom of isolation, telework services like Zoom and Google Hangouts, entertainment streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and video game platforms like Twitch are running overtime. And supporting all those platforms? It’s the cloud; specifically, companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

Telework Impact on the Cloud

In response to work from home policies to stop the spread of the coronavirus, major providers of telework tools, including Zoom, Google, Slack and Microsoft and others, have increased their availability in good faith.

As more and more companies issue work from home policies, you may be forgiven for thinking that there could be an overload on the cloud networks supporting these tools. But as veteran technology reporter Adrian Bridgwater wrote in Forbes, that may not be the case.

The effects from remote-work on the world IT network should be “comparatively minimal,” he wrote, adding, “we are simply displacing data traffic from office locations to home or elsewhere.”

However, cloud service providers, which sell and maintain products that run on the rails of cloud networks, are seeing an increase in demand from clients as work shifts from the office to the home office.

Simone Merlini, an IT service provider from Italy, recently told Reuters that he spent all night on an engineering sprint to get 400 office workers ready to work remote in 24 hours.

CloudBlue, a leading cloud commerce platform for service providers from Ingram Micro Cloud, introduced new features to its CloudBlue Connect platform designed to provide its customers more operational efficiency and scalability during these tough times.

At the core of the new feature rollout is an important plugin on the Zapier platform, an online automation tool that instantly connects applications. The plugin empowers CloudBlue users to swiftly implement thousands of apps for their customers with no development effort, from anywhere in the world.

“Our cloud and digital capabilities enable companies to look beyond the traditional ways of working”

Tarik Faouzi, VP of CloudBlue

“With businesses today being impacted by the current climate and the need for greater operational flexibility, our cloud and digital capabilities enable companies to look beyond the traditional ways of working to work from anywhere in the most efficient manner possible,” Tarik Faouzi, vice president of CloudBlue, said in a statement.

Other CloudBlue Connect features designed to increase efficiency and scalability include:

  • Expanded compatibility with usage-based products: The ability to add products that require complex usage reporting.
  • Shopping cart validation and reservation: Automatically validate the availability of a product quantity and reservations before checkout.
  • Unified product definition: Vendors can more specifically define products from one interface, and providers can find all product-related information in one place. 
  • Extended SKU definition: Vendors can create a detailed SKU hierarchy so that providers can better understand their portfolio for clearer bundling and up-selling and cross-selling paths.

Entertainment in an isolated world

However, stresses to cloud services don’t end at the workplace. People’s lives are also shifting online during isolation.

The telework tools mentioned above are no longer being left in the office. They are being repurposed outside of the workplace too.

Virtual Zoom cocktail hours, and Netflix Party Google Chrome extensions will increase the number of users as well as the number of hours these types of tools are used. As Vox reporter Aja Romano writes, “they’ve become tools for our reconfigured socialization.”

Also, as bars, nightclubs, gyms and libraries shutter to cool the spread of the virus, people are increasingly turning to entertainment which is supported by the cloud — giving whole new meaning to the phrase “Netflix and chill.”

Netflix, the largest subscription streaming service in the US, has yet to release any figures hinting at an influx in subscriptions attributed to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, one analyst is predicting a surge in subscriptions based on an analysis of Google searches of Netflix this quarter, and Netflix’s stock has jumped 9.2% year to date. And all of this will have an impact on cloud companies supporting the video streaming service.

Governments have asked Netflix and other streaming services to lower video quality to increase the available bandwidth on network cables, and we could see similar pushback from cloud companies that host those types of services. (The companies have complied with requests).

For cloud companies, which maintain vast data centers to store and provide ready access to data from individuals and companies around the world, they are taking the challenge head on. They have implemented strict policies on who can access data centers, and have even installed sleeping pods for around-the-clock personnel.

An AWS spokesperson recently told Joseph Tsidulko, a reporter with CRN, a publication that covers IT resellers, “We have taken measures to prepare and we are confident we will be able to meet customer demands for capacity in response to COVID-19.”

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.

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Sam Brake Guia
Sam is an energetic and passionate writer/presenter, always looking for the next adventure. In August 2016 he donated all of his possessions to charity, quit his job, and left the UK. Since then he has been on the road travelling through North, Central and South America searching for new adventures and amazing stories.