By Ihab Farhoud, Director, Solution Engineering, METNA
Here we are looking back on 2020 and we can really say technology saved the day.
Just imagine the pandemic without technology.
The ability to work from home, to learn from home, to shop from home, to be with each other from home, all this was possible only because of technology, and specifically the connectivity that is available on a mass scale.
The Quantum Leap
In 2019, when we at VMware spoke to customers and potential customers about optimizing ROI or improving the customer experience, most would say that they are interested in adopting cloud and multi-cloud technologies in the next 3-5 years. Today if you ask the very same question, you’ll hear that they are already on cloud. Organizations made a quantum leap in 2020.
The goal for large organizations and governments during the pandemic was not just to keep their businesses running but to support society. Students needed to continue education; the workforce needed to continue employment; individuals needed to continue receiving regular, basic medical care; they needed sources of nourishment, entertainment, and hope.
To make this possible, organizations and institutions were forced to embrace and accelerate the adoption of digital transformation, of which cloud and multi-cloud strategy is a pillar. Sectors had to completely reinvent themselves with education and healthcare as two primary examples.
Of course some companies fared better than others, and some were already out of the gate while others were still contemplating. There were customers who already had a digital transformation strategy in place and needed just to accelerate. And there were customers who had no such strategy in place and needed help to build one in an extremely short period of time.
Some customers were forced onto the cloud because of supply and demand issues. At the start of the year the global shutdown ceased factory productions on all kinds of products including hardware such as servers and storage. Businesses who relied on hardware and whose strategy included building private clouds with solid data centers and IT infrastructure had to find another way. They looked at telcos and cloud providers to quickly and efficiently continue offering their services.
Companies who have yet to embrace a digital transformation that includes cloud really do need to act fast. They need to start building their strategy and get their business online right away. They need to start talking to IT companies. They need to call us at VMware. We can help. We provide the platform that will help build, run, manage, connect and secure the cloud. We help our customers develop their applications and these are the means to an end: services to end-users. We help at the infrastructure level – which is cloud and/or multi-cloud and we help at the app level.
Contrary to what some may think, cloud strategy is not just about the technical. It’s about the overall experience offered, it’s about the finances, the whole digital ecosystem and how it connects. Cloud strategy is also about managing success: once you reach your goals, how do you sustain that?
The New Normal
The normal of 2019 will never again be the norm. The technology that was used to meet the challenges of the pandemic transformed us all.
The way we work, shop and communicate with each other has changed and will continue to change. Where we live will change; with many companies – and the giant techs among them – wanting to keep employees working remotely, there may be a move away from urban centers.
When I’m asked about changes in 2020, I also point to myself. I’ve been in IT for 30 years but I was not an online shopper. Not at all. And now, I have a slew of delivery applications! I’m representative of the majority. In emerging economies, such as the Middle East and Africa, the incidence of online shopping tripled and quadrupled because of the pandemic; before last year, it was not a widespread habit.
The new norm is based on a solid technical infrastructure, on a technical base.
We will see innovations in the cloud continue with new services, faster provisioning of services, and scalability in terms of accommodating even more customers. We will see significant innovations in security and this will greatly impact usage.
There was a time when banks, financial institutions and government departments could not trust the cloud; they believed they could not protect confidential and private data on a shared environment. Now, the security mechanisms available to ensure privacy and confidentiality continuously improve and attract once-reluctant customers.
We will see innovations in remote work and remote access technologies.
We will see innovations in remote learning and video conferencing technologies.
Virtual Reality and AI will play a huge role in the new norm. And a lot of companies have already started to improve their AI algorithms to enhance customer experience.
The Middle East and Multi-Cloud
The region was a little bit behind in cloud adoption before the pandemic. Many liked the conventional way, and it was working fine. But as we all know, 2020 changed all that.
At VMware, we worked with multiple entities, businesses and government departments throughout the region.
An example to that is a large, public education institution who had no provisions in place and had to quickly and securely provide online learning. We modernized their data center, built a private cloud with the capability to connect to multi-cloud and were therefore able to help them deliver content from the teachers to the students, receive content, allow teachers and students to connect to virtual classrooms and to interact and engage with each other.
I began by saying that technology saved the day in this pandemic. But the reality is that it saved much more. It literally saved lives.
Learn more about becoming future ready by implementing a Hybrid Cloud in the white paper here.