Necessity is the Mother of Adoption: The Impacts of COVID-19

Our SVP of Products and Marketing, Jason Byrne, participated in the latest JSA Virtual Roundtable. Panelists share their perspectives on the impacts of COVID-19 on data centers & technology. Jason Byrne reflects on the roundtable discussion below.

In a recent JSA Virtual Roundtable, I was able to discuss the impact of COVID-19 with some of my industry peers. We come from different backgrounds ranging from data center operators and edge solutions to our communications and collaboration platform but we all have insight into the needs of our customers during this evolving moment in history.

As each of us contributed to the conversation, a recurring theme became clear. Without cloud based technology, the impact COVID-19 is having on our lives would be far more severe. Moderator Evan Kirstel said, “It’s hard to imagine how we would even live at the moment without all of those cloud-based services and applications we are using”. According to Right Scale’s annual State of the Cloud Report for 2019 (before the impacts of COVID-19), 91% of businesses used public cloud and 72% used a private one. Most enterprises actually utilize both options – with 69% of them opting for a hybrid cloud solution.

Another takeaway was how our industry benefits from the ability to serve customers regardless of their physical locations. The rapid reorganization of the workforce has left many businesses scrambling to adapt while supporting remote workers is second nature for cloud providers. For example, our Service Provider customers saw up to a 300% increase in support calls mostly asking how to move their office phones to their home. The end users were delighted to hear all they needed to do was just plug them in! 

The data center folks agreed they are seeing an increase in backhaul traffic which is a good sign for the industry as a whole. Data centers have shown themselves to be critical in times such as these. This makes perfect sense as enterprises move away from applications running on in-office hardware and shift them towards the cloud. Lee Kirby brought up the quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Well, now we are seeing necessity as the mother of adoption. When you are forced to break the mold and find new ways to do things, the new solutions you adopt into your processes can easily become the new normal. 

One big talking point was around “The Future is Now”, a great comment by our moderator Evan Kirstel. This really resonated with our roundtable guests. They are seeing their employees embrace remote working tools as well as seeing their customers’ faith in datacenter technology paying off. Before the remote working transformation prompted by COVID-19 Poly reported, only 4.8% of meeting rooms had video conferencing at that time. 95% were reportedly audio-only. Now, almost all offices have video conferencing and collaboration tools to replace the in-person interactions which are no longer feasible. The new office just happens to also be home.

At the tail end of the roundtable, I posed an observation to the group, “The noise floor for remote working has been permanently increased. That’s a big change in our industry and every industry”. The response was a series of nodding heads in six different locations communicating their agreement exclusively through video. It looks like the point was made.