3 things the pandemic taught us about cloud computing

Many enterprises are learning some hard lessons they did not even know existed four months ago

3 things the pandemic taught us about cloud computing
MMT / Jeffrey Betts (CC0)

We’re in a recovery now, and at some point, things will be back to near normal…hopefully. We learned that some businesses fared better than others during the upheaval. Nine times out of ten, those businesses leveraged cloud successfully to navigate the quick IT changes needed during the pandemic.

Many enterprises have learned some hard lessons. Indeed, I suspect more will come. Enterprises discovered more about the advantages and limitations of cloud computing in the last four months than in the previous two years. Here are three of the big ones I see consistently:

Cloudops is more important than we thought. Cloud operations has been an afterthought for many enterprises, even post-deployment. Most IT organizations gave it some attention, but cloudops best practices and use of technology have been limited by small budgets and a general lack of understanding. During the pandemic the chickens came home to roost.

The increased use of public cloud providers and the access of cloud systems by a widely distributed remote workforce put a spotlight on the need for operational tools and talent. While self-healing capabilities became an imperative to deal with scaling cloudops, enterprises lacked the tools to automate self-healing processes, and/or the talent to set them up.

Enterprise API strategies are needed ASAP. Data integration has gone from something that’s nice to have to something that’s imperative in a time of fast change. Moreover, enterprises need to share services that bind behavior to data. Both problems are solved by leveraging well-secured and governed APIs.

Some systems have APIs, such as those provided by SaaS vendors. However, for the majority of cloud-based custom enterprise applications, APIs providing access to system data and services are simply nonexistent. Thus, integrations need to occur using one-off processes that won’t scale as the business needs to change because of the pandemic problems.

Extending cloud security to remote workers is tougher than we thought. Although cloud security teams were already dealing with some remote workers, enterprises found out quickly that an employee’s home network is not the company’s network.

Issues such as VPNs, virtual private clouds, encryption, and legal compliance around data suddenly surfaced, as vulnerabilities around cloud security began to appear, thanks to a completely remote workforce. Security teams were just not prepared. They worked quickly to establish new policies, training, and leverage better technology. The reality is that the risk of a breach increased from .0001 percent for most enterprises to .2 percent in a few weeks.

I guess the silver lining is that we’re likely to be better cloud implementers and users after the crisis is in our rearview mirror. As long as we learn from our mistakes, we’ll be just fine.

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