How The Cloud Is Meeting The Pandemic Moment

As enterprises turn from fixed data centers, the cloud provides ways to reduce costs and complexity.

Cloud has emerged over the past year as a critical part of how enterprises have supported their highly distributed workforces. Companies accustomed to in-person brainstorms and conference room meetings began running their businesses on cloud-based services like Slack, Office 365 and Zoom. But there’s more to the cloud than SaaS offerings, or even major public cloud platforms like AWS. Behind the scenes, cloud is playing an even bigger, more important role in keeping the lights on.

Over the course of the pandemic, many enterprises started shifting to cloud-based network management to help IT simplify managing increasingly complex environments. In fact, cloud is the fastest growing segment of the networking industry. According to a recent report by 650 Group, from 2020 to 2021, the cloud-managed WLAN market saw 38 percent year-over-year revenue growth versus 25 percent year-over-year in WLAN overall.   

And this trend is here to stay—many enterprises are adopting hybrid working models, and cloud will be the most effective way to successfully and seamlessly manage those dispersed networks. Here are three reasons why cloud can drive efficiency and value in the post-pandemic era.

Cloud reduces costs compared to fixed data center expenses.

In the face of more complex networks, cloud brings much-needed simplification and can reduce heavy fixed costs by moving away from expensive data center footprints. Many enterprises still operate using a Capex cost model with fixed assets, such as on-premises data centers, which can be costly to maintain and can lead to long-term inefficiencies that impact the bottom line. Migrating to the cloud involves a shift to an Opex cost model that covers day-to-day expenses and monthly cloud subscription services, which can be more cost effective over time and lead to more simplified management for enterprises.

As more enterprises move to a permanently distributed model, finding ways to drive efficiencies and advance operations across the organization is imperative. By moving away from physical data centers, enterprises can free up valuable resources and reduce maintenance costs for operating systems and databases that can be moved to the cloud. This creates more room—and budget—for enterprises to grow operations in other areas of the business.

Cloud-based automation reduces complexity and manual tasks for busy IT staff.

Looking beyond cost savings, cloud helps bring simplicity in day-to-day operations for IT staff who are struggling to keep up with managing the complex environments of distributed enterprises. Leveraging the advanced automation features that cloud management platforms offer can help IT teams reduce burnout and focus on more meaningful, forward-looking digital initiatives that drive true business outcomes. For example, automation helps taxed IT teams by automatically identifying, onboarding and securing new devices joining the network and completing automatic upgrades to keep devices up to date. Automation provided by cloud platforms helps take away these types of lower-level tedious tasks and streamlines basic network management so IT staff can focus on more value-add projects for the enterprise.

Not only does automation reduce complexity, it improves overall efficiency so enterprises can make smarter staffing decisions for their IT teams. Outside the enterprise, healthcare is an industry that has significantly benefited from cloud-based automation during the pandemic to help support tireless health IT workers distribute vaccines. Novant Health, a four-state integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient centers and hospitals, is one key example. The Novant team utilized cloud-managed solutions to create a mass vaccination clinic that could be set up and torn down within a few hours, enabling them to simultaneously administer vaccines to 120 patients at a time. This exemplifies the power of the cloud to help drive efficiency, simplify operations and reduce stress during a crisis and beyond.

Cloud offers more flexibility and security.

Cloud also creates a more flexible, secure model than the average data center. When you look at the needs of businesses now compared to a year ago, priorities have shifted. Enterprises are now tasked with ensuring the global, hybrid workforce is functional and successful no matter where they are. Cloud is in the linchpin to those goals—it brings enterprises the flexibility needed to scale operations remotely as the enterprise grows and disperses. With cloud infrastructure, businesses can quickly adapt their infrastructure to specific, current goals without the need for significant and costly investments in hardware.

Cloud also offers security benefits. Ransomware attacks have increased nearly 500 percent since the beginning of COVID-19. Given the rise of high-profile cyberattacks and the fact that the shift to remote work has greatly expanded the attack surface, cybersecurity is top of mind for enterprise CIOs today. Cloud can actually deliver increased security, as most cloud services have built-in security features, dedicated staff and significant resources to ensure enterprise data is secure. Additionally, network segmentation provided by the cloud can help keep the network secure as user workstations are segmented. By having cloud provider’s staff assist with managing and securing the cloud, this helps free up the in-house IT staff and ensures a more secure model with multi-layered protection. The pandemic has shown that cloud is key to the future of work, and this will only become clearer as the workforce continues to decentralize. The cloud is key for reducing overall costs, managing complex environments and creating a more flexible, secure model. Now is the time to move your enterprise to the cloud. Your organization’s time, budget and efficiency will greatly benefit from the switch.

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