Cloud Computing’s Response to Covid-19

written by Denis Njeru

In this blog article I shall be tackling how cloud computing has supported the Covid-19 response. As you are all aware Covid-19 has thrown a spanner in the works to normal conventions practiced by the global community. We have been forced to reinvent how we work, learn, and adapt to the prevailing environment around us.

Cloud computing has played a pivotal role in enabling governments and businesses alike in weathering the storm that is Covid-19. It has behind the scenes provided an element of stability to our businesses by maintaining a sense of continuity for organizations that had adopted it pre Covid-19. Thus, such organizations and institutions have been able to respond promptly as well as apply solutions rapidly to their environments. These organizations and institutions postulate that the cloud will be key to business resilience in the aftermath of the pandemic.

For those who are not familiar with the ‘Cloud’, cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing resources and applications delivered over the public internet. It provides businesses and governments with benefits such as increased agility, elasticity as resources can be scaled vertically and horizontally according to demand, and it provides reliability backed by service level agreements.

Now that we have some context to the cloud, let us examine the role it has played in the response to Covid-19 pandemic.  Players in both the public and private sectors have lauded the cloud for creating fair innovation opportunities. This is because they use cloud services that lift the burden of them having to focus on underlying infrastructure thus being able to deploy their solutions rapidly on the fly.

CLOUD APPLICATIONS IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR

This is the most relatable application to the Kenyan context as we have seen students learn from home using Software as a Service (SaaS) applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. For parents who have had to double up working from home and ensuring that their kids are up to date with their education; they have had to interact with such SaaS applications. These applications are powered by the cloud and they have enabled students to learn remotely. For those who have interacted with such applications can attest to how rapidly they were deployed. Students were able to be added to virtual classrooms and had access to their teachers and lecturers within minutes.

CLOUD APPLICATIONS IN THE HEALTH SECTOR

The cloud has supported first line workers in the healthcare industry by enabling 3D printing of medical equipment such as ventilators. As you are aware ventilators are pivotal in supporting patients who have the coronavirus. Earlier in the year, the United States of America were planning to increase the number of ventilators in their federal reserve as health experts projected that 960,000 ventilators were needed in the fight against Covid-19. America at the time had only 170,000 ventilators in inventory! That is a huge deficit to bridge and as such pressure was put on players in the manufacturing industry to assemble ventilators. Recently in Spain, a company called Leitat Technology Center developed the FIRST 3D ventilator. It was designed by Mr. Magi Galindo, an engineer at Leitat Technology Center.

The cloud can be attributed to this by effectively bringing test to design approaches in a rapid manner. Leitat projects that 50 to 100 of this ventilators can be made in a day. It is a noble venture that will serve a great deal in relieving Spain’s strained healthcare system. Ultimately, it can aid in the global fight against the coronavirus.

CLOUD APPLICATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE

In the wake of social distancing and limited physical interactions, institutions and enterprises have turned to digital solutions availed by the cloud to retain productivity. Collaborative solutions such as Microsoft 365, Slack and Zoom has seen a dramatic rise in terms of consumption since lockdown orders took effect in several countries across the globe. These solutions have helped organizations stay on track in terms of goals, with some experiencing greater efficiency from their employees.

CLOUD APPLICATIONS IN E-COMMERCE

The e-commerce industry has seen a boom in this period. Millions of users are turning to platforms such as Amazon to procure groceries and other essential items. Amazon like other e-commerce applications reside on the cloud and therefore can accommodate surge increase of orders by scaling vertically and horizontally when needed.

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Leitat and project partners bringing to life the first 3D ventilator.

GOING FORWARD…

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It is possible to expect another crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic to occur. Therefore, it is vital to future proof by promoting the use of the cloud. More needs to be done to increase the connectivity capacity in the country. There is a pressing need to find solutions to keep societies and economies running during this period and governments can play a role in adjusting their regulatory environments to best enable cloud computing usage.

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