How will a return to work impact cloud usage and strategy?

In the wake of COVID-19, enabling remote work has required IT teams to rapidly lean into cloud technologies to keep their businesses operating smoothly. A survey suggests that cloud usage continues to rise, and what was a sudden shift will become a permanent strategy for most organizations.

cloud usage and strategy

Despite many countries planning for a return to physical offices and workspaces, 60% of IT leaders are continuing to increase their overall cloud usage and 91% are changing their cloud strategy as a result of the current economic climate.

The study, conducted by Snow Software surveyed 250 IT leaders around the world to find out how cloud usage and investment decisions have evolved during the crisis.

Cloud usage continues to increase

Overall, 82% of those surveyed said they have increased their cloud usage over the past several weeks in response to the pandemic. 60% said their cloud usage continues to increase, indicating that cloud consumption patterns are still in flux even after the initial surge in remote work.

Additionally, 66% reported that they will continue to use the cloud services and applications they implemented during the crisis once employees return to the workplace. Surprisingly, only 22% reported they saw an initial increase in cloud usage but that it had leveled off.

While Zoom and Teams dominated the headlines, cloud infrastructure was actually the biggest driver of this increase. When asked about how their company’s use of cloud services and applications changed in response to the current crisis, 76% said they have increased their use of cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and even private cloud.

55% noted an increase in collaboration tools like Slack, Teams or Google Chat, while 52% of those surveyed indicated an increase in cloud-based video conferencing software like Zoom, Cisco WebEx or GoToMeeting.

While many companies may have already relied on these productivity services ahead of the crisis, the surge in cloud infrastructure represents a more fundamental shift in how organizations operate.

A change in enterprise cloud strategy

Overall, these trends hint at a larger change in enterprise cloud strategy. As IT leaders face the concurrent challenges of continuing to support remote work, enabling a return to the workplace and tightening budgets, 91% said they are altering their cloud strategy.

Twice as many say they are accelerating cloud migration (45%) and digital transformation (41%) versus putting those initiatives on hold (22% and 21% respectively).

However, while usage and investment in cloud technologies continue to increase, a third of respondents indicated that they are getting creative with their budget – 32% of respondents are asking their cloud vendors for extended payment terms and 31% are renegotiating their cloud contracts. Around 10% of respondents indicated that they would not be able to pay their cloud bills this month.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned cloud into an essential service for many organizations while also highlighting the complexities of managing cloud cost and usage,” said Jay Litkey, EVP of Cloud Management at Snow Software.

“This survey confirms what we are hearing from our customers – that while many CIOs are being asked to trim costs, there will be continued investment in technology that presents the opportunity for long-term growth and stability.

“To weather the storm, IT leaders must take a comprehensive approach to managing cloud, uncovering opportunities to streamline costs while continuing to provide the infrastructure needed to support their workforce and drive innovation.”

Additional key findings

  • 82% of IT leaders surveyed said they have noticed positive changes in employees’ attitudes towards IT since the pandemic started.
  • 47% of respondents said they will feel comfortable returning to a physical office once their company outlines a clear plan that ensures the safety of employees. However, 43% would like their company to offer work from home options even after reopening.
  • When asked about which applications – beyond core IT software – that have been lifesavers, respondents said video conferencing apps like Zoom, Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting (73%) and communication apps like Slack, Teams and Google Chat (65%).
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How will a return to work impact cloud usage and strategy?