COVID-19: drives Canadian businesses to adopt more cloud

By Alberto Da Anunciacao, Chief Infrastructure Officer
Alberto Da Anunciacao, Chief Infrastructure Officer, Aptum discusses Canada’s drive to adopt more cloud technologies...

COVID-19 has impacted nearly every facet of our lives, particularly how businesses use technology. For example, soon after the pandemic began, we saw the rise in remote work. This caused many demand spikes in internet traffic including with one of the world’s busiest internet interconnection hubs in Frankfurt, Germany reporting a new all-time traffic peak in mid-March. Many organizations were already adopting digital transformation strategies to become more flexible and efficient. But the pandemic has accelerated that process.

Earlier this year, Aptum conducted a survey of 400 senior IT decision makers in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., across a range of industries, to see how their technology use had been affected by COVID-19. Not surprisingly, most respondents said cloud computing had become very important to their businesses. In Canada, nearly seven out of 10 decision makers (69 per cent) identified cloud as being important to them.  

In fact, 51 per cent of Canadians surveyed strongly agreed cloud computing was essential to the financial security of their organizations, significantly more than the 40 per cent of global respondents who felt similarly. The level of strategic importance Canadian business leaders placed on the cloud translated into confidence in cloud solutions to help organizations maintain business continuity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-three per cent of Canadian respondents said they had used cloud services to provide their customers with critical services, compared to 48 per cent globally. And 77 per cent said they had used the cloud to enable their remote workforces.

To take full advantage of the insights data can deliver requires organizations to capture information effectively and ensure it’s available when and where it’s needed. In particular, this means businesses should invest in security and disaster recovery. Our survey found Canadian business leaders recognize the importance of both. When asked what their business driver for cloud was, 62 per cent cited increased security, while 53 per cent said business continuity.

Shifting to the cloud can speed up digital transformation for organizations, reduce costs and increase productivity. But none of those outcomes are guaranteed. The companies that have the most success in the cloud, map their business objectives closely to their cloud infrastructure, ensuring they have the right cloud technologies to meet their goals.

This was reflected in the survey responses. Many Canadian business leaders said they have trouble picking the cloud solution that’s right for them, with 72 per cent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreeing that complexity and abundant choice make selecting the right cloud strategy difficult, compared to 62 per cent of global survey participants.

Similarly, a large majority of Canadian respondents (77 per cent) wanted to accelerate cloud adoption but needed help or expertise to make it happen, compared to 69 per cent globally. 

Specific cloud adoption hurdles cited by Canadian business leaders included:

  • Getting full visibility into all their cloud environments through a single portal (23 per cent)
  • Control and governance of access to cloud environments (25 per cent)
  • A clear mechanism to detect and respond to security threats across all cloud environments (24 per cent)

It’s encouraging to see Canadian organizations relying on the cloud for mission-critical business functions. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to a more flexible, remote work environment and we don’t foresee that shift reversing. Many of our customers are devoting more time and resources to supporting technologies such as communication and collaboration tools, mobile devices, and security. 

There’s no way to know exactly what work life will look like after the pandemic. But at Aptum, we believe data-driven insights will help the economy recover from the wreckage created by COVID-19. Organizations that invest in digital transformation and a data-centric business approach will be a step ahead.

However, as our survey shows, businesses need to plan carefully to take full advantage of the flexibility the cloud gives them. Different types of data are better suited to different cloud environments. For example, driverless cars rely on a constant stream of data to accurately travel roads. That data needs to be processed at the network edge where there’s less delay because it has to be interpreted and acted upon in near real-time. On the other hand, data such as medical records may only be accessed once every several years, allowing it to be stored far off in the cloud because speed isn’t as important.

When looking to take full advantage of the cloud and move to a data-centric model, businesses should consider this: The key to success is to start with the business problem you’re trying to solve and not with the technology you’re hoping to adopt. The questions don’t need to be complicated. Some examples would be:

  • Who owns the data in our organization?
  • What does our existing IT infrastructure look like?
  • How often is data being accessed?
  • How secure does the data need to be?

Once those questions are answered, the organization will have a better understanding of which cloud solutions are best suited to different data sets and applications and can build a hybrid cloud architecture that reduces their operational burden, boosts efficiency and improves productivity. 

For more information on business topics in the United States and Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America.

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