The Cloud May Be ITs Antidote for COVID-19

These are unprecedented times where it's hard to get anyone to pay attention to anything other than the COVID-19 epidemic sweeping the globe. But what is the answer for IT if we are looking at a prolonged period of distributed work?

These are unprecedented times where it's hard to get anyone to pay attention to anything other than the COVID-19 epidemic sweeping the globe.  Within the current swirl of confusion people are trying to figure out a lot of things: how to work from home, how to balance households suddenly on lockdown - and in this environment it's likely that gaps in key infrastructure might go either unnoticed or unaddressed.

But what if we are looking at a prolonged period of distributed work?

  • Buckle up: this it going to take a while
  • How can the cloud help?
  • Putting a mitigation plan together

Buckle up: this it going to take a while

The signs are there if you look for them to that indicate this is not a day or even week-long phenomenon.  The stock market (which typically prices in a 6 month horizon) has sent Zoom stock through the roof:

Zoom Stock chart

And the last comparable outbreak the world saw, the 1918 Spanish Flu, typically ravaged cities over a 9 to 18 week period.  That's a really long time to ignore gaps in IT infrastructure.

How can the cloud help?

The cloud can help address the COVID-19 - and other potential significant business disruptions (hurricane, earthquake, etc.) - in 3 key ways: 

  1. 100% supportive of remote work
  2. Rapid deployment, scalable tools
  3. Geographic distribution

1. 100% supportive of remote work

While this may seem an obvious point, all cloud tools are - by design - built to work with a completely remote workforce.  It's important to point this out, however, because until recently this was a "nice to have" not an absolute requirement for IT systems.

2. Rapidly deployable, scalable tools

Because of the scale of cloud and the billing model of pennies, all cloud tools are necessarily rapid to deploy and scalable.  Because of the need to rapidly address and fill gaps, the battle tested tools the Cloud provides are a perfect solution.

3. Geographic distribution

While certainly more important in creating resilience in geographically specific phenomenon (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.) the geographically distributed nature may be helpful in addressing COVID-19 issues as well. Different countries and regions are being effected on different timelines, depending on response by government and community action.  Additionally, unprecedented usage of the internet, particularly with heavy broadband activities like video streaming may stress the system and cause localized issues in connectivity or performance.  By diversifying geographically the Cloud can help ensure that an issue in one location remains contained.

Putting a mitigation plan together

While Metal Toad would be happy to help with a professional executed Business Disruption Cloud Assessment, one of the first steps, triage can be started today.  Our recommended approach is to divide IT infrastructure into three categories:

  1. Healthy (green) - Healthy systems should be those that are already cloud-based or don't require any periodic or regular physical maintenance and are able to scale to meet potential demand.
  2. Vulnerable (yellow) - Systems should be categorized as vulnerable if they are still operational and performing as needed but could require either physical maintenance (hard drive replacement, power cycle, no VPN access, etc) or could potentially see demand spikes that could lead to failure or slow down.
  3. Broken (red) - Broken systems are simply that: they are not working, cannot be accessed remotely, or are significantly impaired. 


COVID-19 as both trigger for stress testing and a window of opportunity to repair these systems provides a significant opportunity for moving our organizations to a better future if we look at it from the right vantage point.  it's highly likely that the continued disruption it is causes is something that will be impacting us for a matter of months, not days or even weeks. And it's unlikely that we will have another such opportunity to align organizations around a need for system improvement.  Let's take this opportunity and make the IT world a better place!

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