As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in the use of cloud services, which could have significant implications for employers. CyberCube’s estimation is that around 90% of businesses are currently making use of cloud service and that 60% of these are using the cloud to do “something important”.
There can be no doubt that, in recent years, use of cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) has exploded in businesses of all sizes. According to some sources, 94% of enterprises already use at least one cloud service and the average enterprise uses five different cloud platforms or applications. With some estimating that 83% of enterprise workloads will be run from the cloud by the close of 2020, it is clear that our dependence on cloud service is now deep and irreversible.
Of course, the current Coronavirus pandemic is forcing business to rely even more heavily on cloud services. Usage of cloud infrastructure and business applications are up as a result of workers being forced to work from home and, probably more significantly, cloud-based communication applications such as email, web-conferencing and social media apps have skyrocketed in recent months. The “Zoom” web-conferencing app is seeing daily usage numbers that are up more than 300% from the weeks preceding the pandemic and Microsoft says that it has seen a 775% rise in usage of its cloud offerings following the introduction of social distancing measures.
My prediction is that many of the cloud habits now forming will not leave us post pandemic. This does make me consider the implications of severe cloud outages. Entirely coincidently, I have been working on a project at CyberCube since the December period (i.e. “pre-pandemic”) that attempts to model a scenario involving a major outage at one of the “big three” cloud providers. There is precedence here and plenty of well-documented system failures that have created pretty large impacts to the customers of cloud service.
What are the chances of one of these cloud ecosystems being severely disrupted? It’s hard to say but many predict that we are due for a major cloud outage within the next three years. There is certainly plenty of precedence for major cloud ecosystem disruption. In terms of a “disaster-level” event, some are very concerned. How about this for a prediction from Jack Wallen, an award-winning tech writing at Techrepublic..? “In 2020, there will be a cloud breach to make all other breaches look elementary in execution and minuscule in outcome. This breach will see billions of users’ data at risk and will force companies with stock in the cloud to take an inventory of their security offerings.”
I hope that the timing of Jack’s prediction is wrong, given the Coronavirus pandemic. Imagine our current “lockdown” with heavily reduced cloud services. Those businesses which are just about getting by thanks to internet communications would be impacted further, compounding the severe disruption that we already face. Some insurance experts predicted in 2018 that an incident that takes a major cloud provider offline in the US for three to six days could result in losses to the industry of $15 billion. This would likely be far greater, mid-pandemic.
I would suggest that, as a minimum, businesses should be evaluating cloud dependency, creating risk mitigation strategies and ensuring that any single points of failure that could create major business disruption are eliminated through multi-vendor strategy and back-up processes.