The social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has converted it into something more than a public health issue. At the company level, digital transformation processes with years-long implementation plans have been accelerated to months or weeks, to respond to an unimaginable solution at the beginning of 2020.
Digital infrastructure has taken on a new and critical dimension, as in many cases, it’s been necessary to make major efforts to guarantee business continuity in a sudden context of large-scale remote work. And not only work: also video games, and streaming content. According to Tom Leighton, CEO at Akamai, traffic on their platform, through which 15-30% of all internet traffic passes through, doubled its volume in March of 2020, as compared to March 2019. And the European Union had to ask Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube to reduce the quality of their streaming to conserve bandwidth in the region.
Within the IT world, what can we learn from the impact of COVID-19? What does a company need to be able to respond in an adequate way to a crisis like this one?
Decentralize IT services
Decentralizing IT services is key to being able to respond agilely and efficiently to contingencies like the current one, for example, to more quickly implement measures such as remote work while maintaining productivity.
The crisis unleashed by coronavirus’s impact is accelerating change in IT infrastructure. Resources housed on-premise are being moved off-premise, to secure, efficient, and flexible data centers. On-premise units simply don’t have the capacity to hold up to the pressure that an event like COVID-19 puts on its flexibility, and companies are understandably more and more focused on making their operations as resilient as possible.
Per Gartner, by 2025 80% of companies will have migrated their IT infrastructure from on-premise data centers to colocation data centers or cloud services. And given that this study was conducted prior to COVID-19, we can assume that this timeline’s going to move forward more quickly than initially predicted.
The strategic focus of IT services is taking over the management of equipment, so that companies can dedicate more of their time to satisfying business needs, developing new capacities and projects, and applying new technology, or anything else with a high strategic impact on their success. And to achieve this, a necessary step is decentralizing IT services and entrusting infrastructure to specialists capable of keeping their equipment secure and offering custom solutions that adapt to their needs.
Scalable resources in pay-per-use
Working with in-house infrastructure makes it hard for businesses to respond agilely. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) in a cloud allows companies to scale their IT resources depending on their needs, and pay per use.
Being able to access infrastructure as needed without making major investments that may later be underutilized is a crucial part of this approach.
Many companies have started to migrate their key resources to cloud services already. Synergy Research Group says investments in cloud services have grown 37% in the first trimester of the year, as compared to 2019. Taking into account that the worst of the crisis arrived in March, we can expect a similar increase in the second trimester.
Not all sectors are equally prepared to face an event like the spread of Covid-19. Sectors like education, health, and distribution have found that they don’t have the necessary infrastructure to transfer all of their employees to a virtual environment.
Efficient risk management
Efficient risk management implies elaborating a disaster contingency plan that allows your IT infrastructure to respond to any unforeseen events as they come up. For example, with replication systems such as DRS, and BRS, as well more obvious backups, systems can be recovered easily and consistently.
And the digital transformation process only makes having a contingency plan more necessary, as IT services become even more critical to business continuity.
A permanent change
The impact of COVID-19 on IT services is propelling many companies to accelerate their digital transformation processes and migrate to Iaas or cloud services that provide greater flexibility, agility and resilience in disasters.
This change is inevitable and permanent. It was already in progress, pre-coronavirus. For IT, the biggest consequence of confinement during the coronavirus crisis is precipitating these already-present tendencies.
What do you think? How should companies change IT management to respond to unexpected crises?