Covid-19 has obviously changed things dramatically over the last few months. For those who have been affected or have had their families affected it has been the worst experience imaginable. For countries it has pushed economies back decades, with for example the UK economy now being in recession for the first time in 11 years.
For the business world two things have become apparent:
(i) Working from home, which was necessitated by Covid, appears to be here to stay. The genie is out of the bottle so to speak and many business appear to be embracing either a fully work from home culture or in most cases going ‘hybrid’ in which some staff are in the office and some are working from home, with many leaving the optionality of which to choose to the employees, with many employees favouring to continue working from home.
(ii) Covid-19 forced many companies who had not adopted a Cloud-first strategy to begin embracing Cloud in earnest as well as to accelerate adopting technologies that enabled hybrid access to on-site data. This was particularly prevalent in Companies whose data assets were land locked to the office. On-site or Company datacentre storage is not going away anytime soon so business agility and data flexibility / resiliency have become prioritized mainstream projects for most Companies, with many having to not only totally rethink their digital transformation strategy but also address the need for more robustness in their data protection and compliance strategies to encompass remote workers.
What I have seen at Storage Made Easy echoes these points, both as a Company and a supplier of Enterprise software which facilitates hybrid data access.
As a Company we have always dealt with and managed our own remote teams (as per my prior post, Communicate don’t Commute).This helped us in our own transition to, at this stage, a full remote WFH workforce. However we have had to set strict disciplines to continue to observe a company culture. This involves setting Slack team calls for the various regions at regular times of the morning and the rest of the day. It is not always important that it is solely business discussed on these calls, in fact I would argue that it is good to have a convivial chat about things that are not just about work so that the culture of ‘office banter’ is still maintained and there retains a sense of community and feeling connected.
As a business we have had a large upsurge in our multi-cloud File Fabric Technology (which we also user internally) for Companies who, either require employees to have access to on-premises files from home, and/or for Companies looking to refactor existing data assets such as Amazon S3 / Azure and to offer direct access to existing employees.
Whereas the former is to be expected, as employees need to be able to access existing files that are still stored on-site in on NAS/SAN or windows filers, in a way that is performant and cost-effective (as VPN’s don’t cut it long term and VDI becomes expensive long term). The latter observation is interesting as what we have witnessed is Object Storage being used as a primary data source for end users rather than just being used for archive or backup projects. We have seen this previously but not in this volume or with projects with such significantly aggressive timescales.
Why? Well the answer is five-fold:
– Object Storage such as Amazon S3, Azure, and Cloudian is already being used in businesses, so is readily available.
– It is secure and is already ‘signed off for use’ by businesses / internal IT
– Object Storage has a certain amount of Ransomware protection built-in as it is immutable
– It is highly scalable
– The fifth points is likely a reason why it is being rapidly adopted alongside / instead of pseudo consumer business storage such as Box, Dropbox – In a Post Covid world where budgets are being squeezed and many firms are fighting just to stay afloat, it is highly cost efficient and additionally supports a smooth transition to even cheaper storage on-demand, such as Amazon Glacier / Deep Archive, Cool Blob Storage, Nearline/ Coldline etc, which is key for most on-demand business archive strategies.
IDC is calling 2021 the ‘year of multi- cloud’ in which they predict 90% of enterprises will be using a mixture of on-site and on-cloud infrastructure to run their businesses. Business agility is key and Hybrid data access provides a good option for such agility particularly when employee working patterns are no longer office bound but are themselves also Hybrid in nature.
**Image Credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / vaeenma