3 Actions for Cloud Providers to Support Customers Through COVID-19

May 12, 2020

Contributor: Meghan Rimol

Cloud providers can proactively support their customers during the pandemic by demonstrating the strength and adaptability of their service offerings.

Is the public cloud model scalable? Is it resilient enough to handle unforeseen spikes in demand? Do public cloud providers maintain excess capacity to rapidly deploy new services? Are supporting infrastructure requirements sufficiently robust?

As IT leaders increasingly rely on cloud services to support a newly remote workforce, they are facing challenging questions about the resiliency and dependability of cloud services. At the same time as COVID-19 has pushed cloud to the spotlight, it has put providers in a unique position to reassure customers of their strength and adaptability. 

Cloud providers with robust and redundant architecture, as well as disaster recovery plans to respond to such a crisis, are successfully managing in this new normal

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many organizations unsure if their business continuity strategy is sufficiently robust, particularly when it comes to cloud services,” says Daryl Plummer, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner.

“The reliance on videoconferencing and collaboration tools has stressed the limits of back-end supporting services, while also increasing network traffic volume. However, cloud providers with robust and redundant architecture, as well as disaster recovery plans to respond to such a crisis, are successfully managing in this new normal.”

Here are the actions cloud providers must ensure they are taking to support their clients and deliver uninterrupted service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demonstrate ability to handle spikes to VPNs and cloud-supported applications

The rise in remote work and increased use of digital media and streaming services creates challenges for cloud service providers. Well-architected and well-run cloud services are designed to handle unexpected spikes in demand. However, reports of cloud slowdowns or outright inability to handle increased loads are surfacing every day. These problems are often due to VPN capacity and traffic issues.

VPNs are dependent on server connections across both the internet and private networks. This means any reduction in service quality will appear to end users as limited bandwidth availability and slower loads. It is critical that cloud providers that host VPN servers, private network connections and internet services help customers understand their limitations and expand them at a measured cost. Engineer networks to handle spikes without having to throw bandwidth at the problem, which can be costly. 

Stress-test cloud data centers, networks and services 

COVID-19 challenges cloud providers to demonstrate preparedness to handle spikes in demand and unexpected disruptions. In addition to managing increased traffic, operations teams must maintain service availability and performance while working remotely or with reduced staff. Furthermore, the components powering the cloud data center resources, such as chips or servers, may be in short supply due to supply chain disruptions facing manufacturing facilities. 

Cloud providers must develop comprehensive service continuity plans for increased usage, remotely managing services and leveraging a geographically diverse engineering workforce for support. Build customer confidence in your resiliency plans by stress-testing cloud data centers, networks and services, and releasing the results of these tests to customers.

Engage in customer and employee philanthropy

Many cloud customers are facing revenue challenges during these unprecedented times. Providers can act as stopgaps by offering financial relief to customers, especially small and midsize businesses and technology startups. Consider providing cloud-based collaboration and conferencing capabilities at a discount or for free, at least for a limited period of time.

Ease the burden of those impacted by the change in work patterns by offsetting losses in wages or revenue

The impact of COVID-19 also extends in a personal way to individuals. Many employees have roles that are not conducive to remote working, such as cafeteria workers, shuttle drivers, janitorial workers and other types of support staff. Providers have an opportunity to ease the burden of those impacted by the change in work patterns by offsetting losses in wages or revenue. This not only helps those suffering during the crisis, but also helps preserve important services and support staff members for the time when work can resume to a more normal pace.

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