How a Pandemic is Driving Innovation

From grocery store clerks to physicians and nurses, COVID-19 made us keenly aware of the people on the front lines ensuring life would go on, and that we were kept safe. 

According to a series of new studies, businesses of all sizes are starting to look at the cloud as a new kind of essential service. With the shift to remote work and digital operations, innovation in the cloud has never been so critical.  

Cloud Adoption was Already Speeding Up Before COVID-19 

Numerous studies conducted just before the COVID-19 outbreak showed businesses were already expanding their journey to the cloud. A Softchoice survey of North American leaders found 66% of businesses intended to go cloud-first” on all new workloads. 

We also found that 37% of businesses were starting to look to cloud as an innovation engine, that is using cloud infrastructure to build new applications and services or unlock new insights from their data. At the same time, O’Reilly’s Cloud Adoption in 2020 study said almost half of all businesses planned to move 75% or more of their applications to the cloud by 2021. 

Along came the devastating global pandemic. Instead of seeing massive cuts to cloud budgets and initiatives, however, we saw IT leaders move to the cloud faster than before.  

 In one poll40% of respondents said COVID-19 was accelerating their move to the cloud. Meanwhile, 76% said the pandemic had led them to increase their spending on private and public cloud infrastructure services, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. 

 Why Cloud Innovation is Accelerating 

 All of this makes perfect sense when you consider what businesses are facing — and how the cloud can help them overcome it. Stay at home orders, social distancing and a radical shift in consumer behavior has forced businesses to rethink workplace experienceand go-to-market strategies almost overnight.  

“What you are going to see is an acceleration of more people going 100% to the cloud,” said Mary Treseler, O’Reilly’s vice president of content strategy in an interview with Tech Republic 

As businesses get back to (relative) normal, business and IT leaders are looking to the future with some uncertainty. They do not want to be caught off guard again, and they are looking to the cloud to shore up remote work and other business continuity capabilities.  

Don’t Take Our Word for It  

This pandemic-prompted innovation meshes with what we’ve learned through this year’s virtual Innovation Executive Forums. Two stories stand out from our recent event with senior IT leaders in Central Canada, showing just how fast innovation happening now. 

After COVID-19 shut down operations, an IEF member in the food retail industry worked with legal and finance teams to create a new curbside pickup and eCommerce application. The new app took just three weeks to launch. 

Another IEF member in the travel industry said his business lost almost 95% of its revenues in April and May. In response, the IT leader helped the business lay the groundwork to deliver more tailored, end-to-end travel experiences. He says IT has had to shift priorities and shorten delivery timelines to help the business survive 

In both of these stories, IT was forced to act quickly to keep the business alive and thriving. In each case, relying on cloud infrastructure, platforms and applications made a rapid response possible 

Speed Bumps Expected  

In our cloud adoption research, Softchoice found that security and compliance concerns were among the top hurdles keeping businesses from moving to the cloudBusiness leaders also struggled to recruit and retain the specialized talent needed to manage cloud infrastructure and control costs.  

Now that the pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, don’t expect these challenges to disappear. In fact, because speed is now part of the equation, we expect these challenges to become even more important to navigate in the months ahead. To do that, finding the right partner – such as Softchoice – can make all the difference.  

 For more information on surviving and thriving in the COVID-19 era with cloud innovation, download our research brief, “Cloud: An Innovation Engine.” 

The 3 Main Risks to Videoconferencing Security

In collaboration with Google.

Videoconferencing technology isn’t new, but it has experienced a distinct rise in popularity and strategic importance as many more organizations shift to remote work. 

A flash survey of 550 U.S. employers in March 2020 and found that 67% of them were in the process of allowing more workers to telecommute. As these working arrangements become more common, video conferencing will be an important enabler of collaboration and productivity.

To be acceptable for regular business use, a videoconferencing solution must be high performing and highly secure. These requirements are even more important in remote work environments where people join using a variety of devices. 

Not all videoconferencing security is created equal, however. Inadequate protection puts users at risk of attackers hijacking meetings, intercepting sensitive data or accessing recorded sessions without authorization.

For these reasons, it’s important to select a videoconferencing service like Google Meet, which implements multilayered protection against these common threats while offering a simple, scalable conferencing experience.

The 3 Main Security Risks to Videoconferences

Like all internet-connected applications, videoconferencing applications pose risks around improper access and data leakage. But they also present 3 distinct vulnerabilities:

  • Hijacking: Online videoconferences have meeting IDs and PINs that are made public (e.g., because someone has posted one on their social media profile or email signature) or easily guessable. Without protection, any person with these meeting credentials could join and disrupt the proceedings or acquire sensitive information.
  • Screen sharing: Related to the above, most videoconferencing applications include screen sharing functionality. An unauthorized participant could become the active presenter use to make their desktop the (unwanted) focus of the session.
  • Recordings: Many video meetings are recorded for later viewing or transcription. Where and how these recordings are stored and protected is important, as improper access or lack of encryption can mean that sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.

Beyond these in-app risks, videoconferencing software also has the potential to increase the attack surface on a client device. For example, on a desktop or laptop PC, a videoconferencing solution may require the user to download browser plugins or other software, some of which fall outside secure distribution channels like the Windows Store or Mac App Store. These extras further increase risk of compromised security.

Google Meet: Secure Videoconferencing for Remote Work

Google Meet is a videoconferencing solution with multiple layers of protection against modern threats, making it ideal for corporate deployments. 

Built on Google’s secure global infrastructure, it reliably stops abuse such as hijacking, securely stores and manages access to meeting recordings and runs safely and entirely within a browser (desktop), app (mobile) or dedicated video hardware (meeting room).

For instance, to prevent hijacking, it requires someone within the organization to approve any join request by an external participant. This reduces the risk of someone eavesdropping or actively disrupting the session.

Like other Google services, Google Meet undergoes regular audits for privacy, security and regulatory compliance. As well as industry-leading protections, it also delivers reliable and scalable performance, complete with support for hundreds of concurrent users, screen sharing, recording, G Suite integration and a 99.9% up-time service-level agreement.

Softchoice is committed to meeting your needs for business continuity, security and stability. By ensuring organizations get the most value from their Google Meet deployments, we help them scale and secure their communications and ultimately preserve productivity in increasingly remote workplaces.

Looking to adopt a secure videoconferencing solution? 

Get Google Meet tailored to your business.

Softchoice Virtual Discovery Expo 2020: The Highlights

The Softchoice Virtual Discovery Expo (VDX) 2020 has now wrapped.

Over 2,000 people registered to hear from Softchoice and our exhibitor partners about the areas driving their digital transformation today. This year, our full-day virtual tech expo happened in a much different context than the inaugural event in 2019.

Attendees took away an important message: The current global crisis and its impacts have forced many organizations to embrace change. Done the right way, however, this change will be a catalyst to re-imagine the way they approach transforming through technology.

Now that they have taken steps to adapt to change, secure and stabilize business operations and find efficiencies, VDX participants learned how these steps lay the foundation to make them more agile, more efficient and more secure as they travel the road to recovery.

Among those we surveyed, enabling secure and productive remote work, protecting data, adopting and managing cloud infrastructure were the most compelling topics. While some were still adjusting to remote work or found that they were ready to move to the next stage of their recovery, most respondents told us they were still in the middle of that journey.

While there were enough topics covered to fill several articles, we’ve put together a recap of the biggest highlights from VDX 2020.

Digital Transformation in a Time of Crisis

 Keynote by Aaron Brooks, Sr. Director – Strategy & GTM Enablement at Softchoice

Our reality is changing and pivoting to adopt the right agile strategy is more important than ever. Softchoice’s Senior Director of Strategy and GTM Enablement Aaron Brooks kicked off VDX 2020 by exploring the ways organizations are positioning themselves for growth and success in recovery.

The Highlights:

  • Digital transformation isn’t on hold, it’s just pointed at new problems. New ways to go-to-market in times of necessity will drive growth on the road to economic recovery and beyond.
  • It’s time to ask, “What does our organization really need?” Anxiety around IT costs has raised the need to re-allocate resources to keep your business working.
  • When times are tough, lean on your core values. Staying connected not only as a business but as people has been at the center of our journey to recovery.

Watch the full keynote on demand

The Evolution of Remote Collaboration

Keynote by John MacDonald, Head of Americas Productivity & Collaboration Specialists at Google

John MacDonald, Head of Americas Productivity and Collaboration Specialists at Google, delivered a keynote examining the trends influencing the current communication and collaboration landscape and what we can expect to see in the near and medium terms.

The Highlights:

  • The status quo needs to change. Businesses are realizing the urgent need for collaboration tools at all levels, but still face issues around siloed information and lack of IT security.   
  • People want flexible workforce functionality. Organizations need collaboration tools that support work/life balance and allow teams to adopt quickly and collaborate securely.
  • Everyone’s situation is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing secure, smart, simple collaboration solutions.

Watch the full keynote on demand 

How to Achieve Simplified and Highly Effective Security Operations

Keynote by Mike Storm, Distinguished Engineer, Security Business Group at Cisco

In a time of uncertainty, you need a cybersecurity solution with your best interests in mind. Mike Storm, Distinguished Engineer with the Business Security Group at Cisco, explained a three-pillared approach to successful security operations based on quality threat intelligence.

The Highlights:

  • Security controls are only as effective as the threat intelligence they act on. Any security solution depends on access to current, accurate and usable information to remain effective.
  • The more you see, the more you can stop. Unmatched visibility into threats helps protect against them before attackers can exploit vulnerabilities.
  • Organizations need to stay protected after Day 1. Effective security operations depend on a collective, collaborative approach to threat protection.

Watch the full keynote on demand 

Ready to Re-Imagine Your Digital Transformation?

This is just a sample of the insights our exhibitors and partners shared with attendees at VDX 2020.

As you define your journey from continuity and stability through efficiency and recovery, it’s important to recognize the ways the new reality will help you compete and thrive once there.

If you didn’t attend or there was something you missed it’s not too late to take advantage of on-demand breakout sessions, keynotes and downloadable content from our 35+ exhibitors.

No matter where you are on your road to recovery, our team of experts and product specialists are ready to help. 

Explore Softchoice Rapid Response Services