The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated that internet connectivity is no longer a luxury – it’s a utility. During the period of lockdown, the internet has been the only link to the outside world for many people. Furthermore, it’s provided a lifeline to a vast number of businesses that have been able to implement remote working. One survey indicated that close to 60% of UK businesses had shifted to some kind of home working option, whereas previously, 41% had no policy on the matter.
Leaders in the medical and business sector believe that this shift could be longer-term than many people would have initially imagined. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer has warned that the lifting of the lockdown will be gradual, and social distancing measures could be in place for months to come. Therefore, it seems that a full return to the office will be a long way off for many people. Ann Francke, head of the Chartered Management Institute, told the Financial Times that the pandemic would “change the workplace forever.”
In the months to come, the difference between those firms that can continue to offer remote working, or switch to providing online services, versus those that can’t, will prove to be chasmic.
Increasing Dependency on the Cloud
Much has been made of the critical role played by services such as Zoom or Slack in enabling the necessary shift to digital over recent months. But these services are simply the front end – the part that people see.
The true enabler has been the underlying infrastructure on which these applications rely – the cloud. Cloud infrastructure and services allow businesses to reduce or eliminate their dependency on on-premise servers and storage, thereby enabling IT teams to support workers from home. The flexibility and scalability of cloud-based services has also proven highly resilient in the face of skyrocketing demand for video conferencing and remote collaboration since the pandemic restrictions were put in place.
Now that the economic impact of the virus is starting to reach the bottom line for many businesses, growth forecasts for IT spending have been revised downwards, from a 5.1% increase in January to a 2.7% decrease in March.
Despite this, 68% of CIOs have stated that cloud services will take higher priority in their reduced budgets for the rest of 2020, underscoring that the importance of cloud isn’t going unnoticed. Investors are betting that cloud providers will be among the few industries to emerge from the crisis in a better state than they started.
The Critical Role of Integration in a Cloud-First Approach
Adopting an integrated approach to a cloud-first policy can significantly enhance the return on investment in cloud-based services. This is particularly true if some or all employees work from home.
Remote working simply compounds the risk of creating silos between teams, systems or processes. What’s more, in a period where many companies are feeling the impact of coronavirus on their profitability, the drive for efficiency should be paramount to protect the bottom line.
Integration breaks down silos and bridges the gaps between different applications, platforms, and databases. Therefore, a cloud-first approach, together with a robust integration strategy, can help organisations to keep as close as possible to a business-as-usual operation.
Integration Connectivity as a Service (ICaaS) is a low-code, cloud-based integration solution. It uses a tried-and-tested library of pre-built integration patterns and connectors, including adapters for specific applications as well as transport and messaging protocols. It’s accessible via a user-friendly interface that can be administered even by non-technical employees working from home.
It’s scalable and flexible enough to cope with the kind of spikes in demand that occur in times of crisis, and you can quickly and easily add in new applications or services. Therefore, it doesn’t impede any organisation from continuing their journey to the cloud, even if the pandemic restrictions are in place for months to come.
Furthermore, ICaaS can be implemented to complement existing bus platforms such as IBM ACE or Mulesoft in a hybrid framework, whilst preparation is made to migrate fully to the ICaaS cloud solution.
Cost-Effective and Quick to Set Up
Most Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) implementations can be expensive in terms of time and money. During recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, it’s likely that many integration projects will be put on hold due to budget constraints and the fact that external specialists may not be able to keep the project moving without being on-premise.
In contrast, ICaaS can be implemented within as little as 48 hours, with cost savings of up to 70% compared to IPaaS solutions.