May 01, 2020

COVID19 Diaries: Cloud & Cloudification Everywhere

COVID19 Diaries: Cloud & Cloudification Everywhere
COVID19 Diaries: Cloud & Cloudification Everywhere

Cloud Computing has certainly been the buzzword of the 21st century, and nearly 90% of enterprises were already on the way to adopting the cloud. But no one saw the pandemic coming or a huge surge in cloudification becoming the most important aspect of life.

The onset of Covid19 has sent billions of people worldwide to be on the Shelter at Home mode, which has helped cloud adoption surge more than 200%. Grounded by an extended lock down, people are seeking newer solutions to routine life and existence tasks. Cloud computing services-based companies have suddenly become the backbone for almost all the operations around the world.

People are going online and using cloud solutions on a scale that was never imagined before. As of now, the usage of public cloud services sit on $354.6 Billion and more than $1.3 Trillion IT spending will be affected by the shift to the cloud by 2022.

Cloud as a Platform - The Winners

The cloud companies are weathering the pandemic stress-test caused by the sudden spike in workload. There are three cloud providers who have won significantly during these trying times — AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

  • Amazon Web Services has been a leader since their inception. They have scaled their services so well and as of now millions rely on AWS resulting in a growth spurt of $1 Trillion by September 2020 and $2 Trillion by 2023.

  • The lock down gave a big opportunity to Microsoft Azure who has gained a wonderful market share. Azure is playing to its strengths and has seen a 775% spike in its cloud services.

  • Google has also seen a huge demand to their productivity and collaboration tools due to the global lock down. Google’s Gsuite is among the most adopted of its all cloud services and has seen an upsurge of in revenue by more than 80% than last year.

Other cloud service providers like Alibaba, Oracle, IBM and Salesforce, have also seen a wider adoption of their cloud platforms. One major aspect to remember is that though there has been a surge — we have not heard a lot about the outages from any of the major cloud provider, which shows a couple of aspects:

  • Cloud as a Platform has matured with respect to business models and architectures.

  • Cloud platform providers have implemented futuristic hardware/software that could scale to the needs of surges.

  • Technical Support Personnel who are managing the platforms were able to monitor/manage the platforms remotely, effectively.

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Cloud — Industry Verticals — The Winners

Below are some interesting verticals that are using the cloud platforms to meet the extraordinary challenges of today.


Tele-Health was talked about as a technology solution for ages — but was not adopted due to patient privacy and security concerns. However, with social distancing, health care systems and physicians worldwide are racing to adopt virtualised treatment approaches that remove the need for physical meetings between patients and health providers.

  • Virtual consultations are being done using at-home-test kits or self-diagnosing tools. People are using interactive apps with audio and video capabilities to meet their doctors.

  • With the shortage of healthcare professionals — GE Healthcare in collaboration with Microsoft has launched an innovative cloud-based patient monitoring system that provides a central hub for hospital staff to monitor patients virtually in intensive care units. This will help hospitals to monitor a 100-bed, multi-site ICU network with the support of only three senior nurses and two intensivists.
  • Due to the current situation, even dental emergencies are being addressed through tele dentistry. Through a video consultation, dentists are addressing situations such as pain, infection, and swelling and are guiding patients.

  • Most pharmacies started off with online refills, orders of medicines and moved forward with their online delivery models. In some cases, they have even started to waive off home delivery charges.

  • Healthcare & insurance workers were not allowed to work from home earlier due to data privacy and security issues — but the current lock down has allowed them work from home.

Though, the cloudification surge in healthcare segment is expected to be pulled back post COVID19, most of the changes will stay for better.


The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the transition to digital commerce. Online order volumes of full-assortment grocery merchants rose to 210.1%. Most retailers are relying on the cloud to operate especially as they face a surge in transactions.

  • Google Cloud is supporting many supermarket chains with extra capacity as the number of consumers using grocery pickup has rapidly accelerated.

  • Amazon is reaping $11,000-a-second during the COVID19 lock down. It has hired 75,000 more to manage the surge. Yet, as it faces challenges to deliver in lock down — Amazon is roping in ‘Local Shops’. This recent initiative is resulting in interesting partnerships and removing apprehensiveness on going digital.
  • The average daily downloads for popular digital grocery apps like Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt are seeing a big surge since February as well.

Though it is certain that COVID19 has dramatically accelerated the digital disruption of grocery, we expect online grocery shopping will reduce 50% after lock down ends. However, the world will start to see retailers reduce capital spending for physical stores, and more investments for technology.

Online Learning

Over the past few months, the number of students affected by closures in 138 countries has nearly quadrupled to 1.37 Billion. In addition, more than 60.2 Million teachers are no longer in the classroom but video conferencing.

  • Google Classroom was rolled out to more than 1.3 Million students in New York so that they can continue their school year virtually at home.

  • Non-profit educational organizations like Khan Academy using Google cloud is seeing record growth — student and teacher registrations are up almost six times since the pandemic and parent registrations is up 20 times normal.

  • Many virtual workouts for fitness freaks have come up in the time of lock down. Most of the instructors have moved online to connect with clients and stay afloat. many technology-based health fitness companies have been launching a slew of initiatives to help people adopt a healthy lifestyle at home and improve their immunity.

  • London’s famous opera house is just one of the music institutions which has gone online and is live streaming through Facebook and YouTube. The dance studios and artists across the continents are also turning to online solutions, offering virtual dance classes so that dancers continue their practice.

Today, the learners throughout the world can learn anywhere, anytime truly realizing the concept of digitization. Online Learning has become a daily habit now.


With 42 countries under lock down, there is a spike in internet consumption, mostly through multimedia streaming apps. The shelter-in-place orders across the globe, combined with the loss of live sports is accelerating the adoption of various streaming services like Netflix, Disney, Amazon Prime etc.

The weekly consumption of video on mobile devices, has grown from 36.4 Billion minutes to 58 Billion minutes. The average weekly minutes spent watching Netflix saw a 115% increase after lock downs were implemented.

  • Netflix runs mostly on AWS has no trouble scaling cloud capacity. Netflix has added 15.8 Million subscribers in the first quarter, almost double the expected number of 7.2 Million. It has 182 Million subscribers across the globe whose quarterly revenue is $5.77 Billion up from the $5.76 Billion — Check stats

  • Disney+ has grown as a staunch rival to Netflix also uses AWS has 34.3 Million unique viewers.

The pandemic has spiked up the usage of entertainment and will stay like this way for ever.

Remote Work

There is a significant leap in video conferencing usage over the past few weeks, especially with Zoom. With so many people working remotely, many companies need video conferencing to conduct meetings. Just not work, people around the world are using apps like Zoom to connect for non-work purposes — online classes, family catch ups, and workout classes.

  • Zoom has seen the biggest jump by far in the percentage of daily unique users and events: a 191% increase in unique users and a 222% increase in total login events.

  • Other video conferencing tools also saw an increased percentage of login events like Cisco WebEx who had 68% increased login events.

The cloud technology is helping all the services remain closely connected and progress across a geographic distance which otherwise would be impossible.

Innovations Around the World

Though the pandemic has had a devastating impact on our economy and social life, it has ushered in a new era of urgent innovations around the world:

1. Apple and Google have designed contact tracing technology that uses Bluetooth signals to track if users have been in contact with anyone exposed to corona virus.

2. Hands free door openers — Sanitized door handles which almost act ‘life and death’ for the hospital staff is a life breather.

3. Drones with the help of Machine Language is checking on the fevers, coughing and sneezing behaviors of a person in a zone — Watch Video.

4. Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence and imaging solutions are being used to validate social distancing.

5. Emergency ventilators specially designed for the contagious environment — cleans the room of viral particles and supplies purified air to the patient.

6. DIY kit for automated bag valve mask ventilation which helped even US department of defense.

From printable protective face shields to disposable doorknob sleeves and an elbow-operated extension for lift buttons, the world has been on an invention spiral, with the cloud being the backbone of all solutions.

The abrupt movement of millions of people online might have created a huge upsurge in cloud adoption but at the same time the pandemic has created a perfect storm for cyber attacks. With millions of people working in unfamiliar and less secure circumstances, massive cyber-attacks have begun.

Over the past month, there has been 41.5% spike in the number of devices exposed to remote desktop protocol via non-standard TCP ports which are quite harmful which is creating vulnerability to the serious BlueKeep flaw — attackers can exploit to bypass authentication and gain direct access to systems.

The general public is not aware that working from home — can be a similar threat profile as at an airport or a Starbucks because you just do not have the right protection as you have in the workplace. Hence, most of the attackers are fooling people with phony emails with malicious links or playing on sympathies with fake crowdfunding pages for people who have fallen ill.

COVID-19 themed attacks across the world as of April 7, 2020. Source

Though the big players like Microsoft and Google are working tirelessly every day, designing intelligent solutions to negate the possible cyber-attacks, hackers are trying to shift their techniques to capitalize on fear by impersonating established entities like the WHO, CDC, etc. to get into the system.

My Take on Post Covid19 World

After this prolonged period of crisis, the strong desire for renewal, there will be a tremendous burst of creative energy and economy-building.

With shelter in place — think of a world without the cloud. We would have had a lot of inefficiencies and lack of options to our day-to-day living. The cloud has for sure eliminated boredom and enhanced our lives of humanity while we are social distancing at home.

The fact is that the pandemic has clearly accelerated cloud migration and adoption. The steep rise in the usage of the cloud will have a positive impact on the world for humanity, business and industry. With cloud and cloudification being the order of the day during COVID19, it is hard to imagine a world without cloud technology and solutions.

Cloudification will not stop. We will continue to see a lot more innovation on the cloud and how we will interact with technology in the post-COVID19 era. I am confident that as a society and species, we will innovate our way out of the crisis, and the cloud will be the fundamental backbone and enabler for years to come.

The most important aspect of COVID19 is that it has taught us to be humble human beings. I have also been admiring the ways and means humanity is pulling together with humility and showing our resilience. I am inspired by the shared determination of the people to overcome the crisis, the optimism with which we have taken this with courage and positivism. As the Earth continues to breathe, Nature continues to bloom, Cloud & Cloudification is here to stay.

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This post was written by Asokan Ashok, the CEO of UnfoldLabs. Ashok is an expert in driving customer insights into thriving businesses and commercializing products for scale. As a leading strategist in the technology industry, he is great at recommending strategies to address technology & market trends. Highly analytical and an industry visionary, Ashok is a sought after global high-tech industry thought leader and trusted strategic advisor by companies.

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