The benefits of cloud technology for remote working

The future of work is not about where you are, but about how quickly you can move. While most organisations are “keeping the lights on” by supporting remote work, market leaders are capitalising by reforming their entire approach.

As remote working has become the “new normal”, businesses have replaced informal discussions with online messaging, augmented data centres with the cloud, and secured their data from outages and cyber attacks with SaaS solutions.

After their initial steps into the cloud, leading organisations then use cloud to enable employees to make decisions more quickly, business teams to expand more aggressively, and IT to connect with the business more meaningfully.

Laying the foundation

To survive, businesses first need to make remote workers as productive as possible, which means keeping them connected, getting them the resources they need, and protecting them. Across virtually every industry, cloud-based collaboration has supplanted in-person interactions.

Everybody thinks of Zoom meetings, Slack messages, and sharing documents with Microsoft Office 365, but the value of connectivity extends beyond meetings and documents. For example, doctors connect with patients via telehealth services so they can reduce the risk to the patients and decrease the load on the hospitals. Cloud collaboration has literally been a lifeline to keep our society moving forward while remote working.

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To support the natural growth of their applications, organisations then must plan on expanding their infrastructure. Since supply shortages have constrained data centre expansion, most companies have turned to the cloud as a safety value. By migrating simple workloads to IaaS and SaaS solutions, they free up resources for their business-critical applications.

To keep their environments safe and compliant, IT is adopting SaaS protection solutions. Cybercrime is on the rise, and remote workers provide an ideal target for phishing around Covid-19. While preventing a ransomware attack is ideal, teams need to ensure they can recover from an attack. With a cloud protection solution, the data and control is “air-gapped” so ransomware protection and recovery is automatically built in. Then, since the entire environment — endpoints, SaaS applications, cloud and data centre – can be attacked by ransomware, they protect everything.

Accelerating the business

The biggest mistake during challenging times is to focus only on survival, because the companies that prepare to accelerate become the market leaders when the economy rebounds. Still, leaders understand that moving too early is almost as dangerous as moving too late, so they ensure that any investment is elastic. Currently, we’re seeing teams invest in technology and processes to help them move with more velocity and agility.

Agility begins with giving employees more autonomy to make decisions. With remote work, consensus-based decision making is almost impossible. Therefore, leaders are empowering their employees to make data-driven decisions. Since their data is protected in the cloud, teams can now dynamically access and analyse data, and then release the resources. With a minimum of cost, organisations can make better, faster, and more decentralised decisions.

When business teams can deploy and expand applications on-demand, the business moves with more velocity. Lines of business need a secure, protected cloud platform so they can provision new applications with a minimum of financial and compliance risks. The developers can then build and deploy applications quicker because they are not waiting for capital purchases or IT support. Fortunately, the secure, protected cloud platform that IT built to migrate data centre workloads can now serve the lines of business.

IT can then leverage its cloud platform to help the business move even faster. Instead of troubleshooting infrastructure, cloud and SaaS lets IT focus on compliance and business requirements. When the world adjusts to this new landscape, customers, employees, and regulators will expect more transparency around data privacy. Businesses will need to find and manage data for subject access requests, e-discovery, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requests. By shifting its focus from infrastructure management to data management, IT handles the compliance requirements while enabling the business to deliver solutions for their customers.

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Architectural considerations

While every company wants to use the cloud to take a market leadership position, internal disagreements about public vs private cloud have always slowed down these visions, but the current remote working challenges should settle that debate. When making any architectural decision, begin with the requirements. Organisations require infrastructure that can be scaled automatically in any region of the world. Businesses need to move quickly without any capital expense. IT needs to offload both management of the infrastructure and core services like data protection. Private cloud cannot meet these requirements, so customers need a mix of public cloud and SaaS applications.

Organisations should follow three rules as they shift to cloud and SaaS. First, don’t use the cloud for applications and workloads that require a complete re-architecture; you do not need to shift wholesale to the cloud to lead the market. Second, use SaaS applications for core services, rather than trying to run them yourself. Third, understand your network requirements and configuration. Nothing causes more performance and security issues than network configuration errors.

Nobody knows what challenges face us next, but companies that embrace the agility and flexibility of cloud and SaaS solutions are best positioned to respond. Today, all businesses are using the cloud to keep their businesses running during Covid-19. Tomorrow’s leaders, however, are investing in the cloud to drive the future of their business. The future of work is here. Are you prepared?

Written by Stephen Manley, chief technologist at Druva

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