Looking, through the cloud, at the new normal

Apr 23, 2020
Cloud ComputingIT Leadership

istock 1087885966
Credit: BlackJack3D/istock

By Ravi Kumar S., President of Infosys

Cloud. Everyone is talking about this frontline worker from the world of technology who is not just making lives virtually livable in the time of lockdowns, but saving lives too. For example, helping thousands of public health practitioners and clinicians gather, store, and share data related to COVID-19 that then informs response efforts. Much has been said about the cloud’s impact on lives in recent times, and I wanted to expand that conversation to how cloud is also impacting the lives of enterprises. It is providing businesses the resilient foundation of anytime, anywhere infrastructure on-demand that is critical in uncertain times like these, and will continue to play a pivotal role once shutters open to let us all into our offices.

In fact, we may not all work from our offices all the time

The past weeks of working remotely, hugely enabled by the cloud, have clearly showed us that, given the right context, productive work can be executed anytime, anywhere. Now, it’s inevitable that we’ll find ways of bringing some of the flexibility, convenience, and productivity of that work rhythm to our offices too. The hybrid model of working from office and home will come to be the effective new norm. And with it, our “asks” from the cloud will grow.

The first will be a guarantee of security for mission-critical infrastructure. We’ll demand strong data encryption—ranging from an encrypted connection to limited encryption of sensitive data, “least privilege necessary” access controls, deep protection against denial-of-service attacks, and multifactor authentication. We’ll also need to gather information necessary to conduct effective security investigations, allowing us to find the root cause of security issues to prevent them.

The second will be the ask for extreme elasticity and cloud agility to manage on-demand variability of loads between physical and virtual workspaces.

An example that would be interesting when expanded to enterprise-scale is how the American Red Cross quickly established a contact center in the cloud to scale their customer support during Hurricane Harvey. They successfully set up a new contact center within 48 hours instead of having to wait for several months in the traditional call center approach. To top it all, they could also quickly leverage the intelligent, modern contact center approach with skills-based routing, real-time and historical analytics, and AI-powered call sentiment analysis while continuing to connect with and leverage their traditional call centers.

Collaboration will be key

The supply chain disruptions that so many businesses have had to contend with in recent times will push them to look for ways to ease the flow of information and data through the value chain to drive better collaboration. Cloud-powered platforms have the ability to bring together people, resources, and companies in near-perfect matches from across borders of business and geographies. The network effect that these ecosystems can amplify and the foundation that that can lay for co-creative innovation would otherwise take so much longer to create. And all of this, built on basic open digital infrastructure, can be brought to solve the problem of connecting us all for mutual benefit.

For example, linking all problem finders with all solution builders, linking all possible producers with all potential customers, and linking all potential pieces of the same puzzle so people who otherwise can’t access the whole picture can come together to fit it for massive mutual gain. Consider Coupa, a cloud platform for business spend management. The company collaborates at several levels—for instance, it co-creates with its business spend management community to evolve capabilities that empower customers and partners to manage spends better and also leverages the collective spend intelligence from its platform to improve its recommendations.

Innovation must start to get more digital, faster

Today, as our factories and other workplaces are forced to shut or slow down to protect our workers, businesses can’t help but ask if more tech-led, autonomous business and operating models could have assuaged the economic damage. Things like thermal meters on the cloud, telemedicine and connected health devices, smart grids for utilities, edge computing on 5G, IoT-enabled shop floors, contactless retail, drone-powered delivery, networks on the cloud, autonomous and driverless cars driven by cloud- enabled software will proliferate from this inflection point, even become common-purpose. For example, in Brazil, the São Paulo State Government is leveraging cloud computing infrastructure to guarantee online classes to 1 million students in public schools across the state.

And it must all be at scale

Businesses will now need dependable infrastructure to drive the innovation, agility, and resilience they need at hyper-scale. As they shy away from fixed costs and capital outlays, they’ll need for this also to be dynamic and real time with the ability to keep up with the pace of market volatility and operating models that evolve at the speed of business. Only the cloud can make that happen. Take the example of Slack. Architected for the cloud, its architecture is highly distributed. Slack is deployed in various centers around the world to ensure redundancy in the event that one region becomes unhealthy because of unexpected excess traffic or new demand. At any point in time, traffic flows can be intelligently redirected to the next, closest region—a simulated failure in London, for example, will seamlessly transition traffic to Dublin and Paris. This also brings great ramp-up and ramp-down flexibilities to the model.

Each of these examples are powered by AWS. Infosys and AWS have a symbiotic partnership that can bring home all these advantage for your recovery- and resilience-focused enterprise. Together, we want to step up and help.

Ravi Kumar S. is the President of Infosys.