As companies of all sizes modernise their applications and systems, they are increasingly turning to the cloud as a means of enabling faster innovation and agility, saving cost, remaining competitive, growing revenue and adapting to evolving markets.

Indeed, by 2022, three-quarters of all databases will be deployed or migrated to a cloud platform, with just 5% ever considered for repatriation to on-premises, according to Gartner. Already, cloud databases accounted for almost 70% of the market growth in the database market in 2019. Yet, there’s another factor that’s accelerating this migration to the cloud at an even faster pace than originally predicted.

COVID-19 changed the world suddenly and dramatically. In March 2020, nearly the entire world came to halt in an effort to control the pandemic. Businesses not enabled for an all-digital, no-touch world had to quickly figure out how to move forward, how to evolve and how to keep up with the changing world.

The cloud served as a key resource to help companies adopt digital approaches quickly. Whether it’s to reduce the reliance on a physical location for work or business, or to gain agility to handle increased demand at a time when most people are ordering everything online. For many businesses around the world, the desire to move mission critical applications to the cloud suddenly became a matter of a company’s survival.

Recent research in polling over 500 enterprise engineering and IT professionals at manager level and above across the UK, US, France and Germany, found that 40% of respondents are now accelerating their move to the cloud because of COVID-19.

The cloud enables businesses to increase their compute capacity without the need to invest in hardware and facilities. Cloud-based services, such as a database-as-a-service (DBaaS), can instantly provision the technology a company needs to power their digital businesses. Without relying on physical locations and by eliminating many time-consuming tasks, a DBaaS can change the way data is stored, accessed and analysed, freeing existing teams to work on more strategic initiatives.

What’s more, companies realise that many structural changes are here to stay and future disruptions – be it a second round of shutdowns as a result of COVID-19, another pandemic or an entirely different disaster – need to be anticipated and planned for. The same survey found that nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents indicated that they expect a second wave of the pandemic, and over half (51%) plan to move more applications to the cloud to prepare for it.

However, accelerated cloud adoption is not the universal response to the crisis. Close to a quarter (24%) of respondents said they were slowing down their move to the cloud because of the impact of COVID-19. This varied from country to country, with the UK indicating the lowest percentage of slowing down (12%) and the US the highest (36%).

Careful planning is necessary to complete a successful migration to the cloud. Companies who have not yet embraced the cloud should invest in best practices to successfully move their mission critical applications in a way that isn’t disruptive to the business. There are many cloud solutions to choose from. It’s important to fully understand your requirements and objectives. Is it important to have database support for your mission critical application? What is your HA/DR strategy? Are you comfortable committing to a single cloud provider or is multi-cloud important to you? Understand what your needs are now but also what your needs may be in the future.

One business that has successfully pivoted its operations during COVID-19 with the help of the cloud and earlier decisions around their technology stack is Tock, an established online restaurant reservation and payment platform. While the pandemic has impacted global economies in countless ways, the shutdown has been especially devastating to the restaurant industry.

To help address the crisis, Tock pivoted overnight to offer ‘Tock To Go’. Within days of shelter-in-place orders being implemented, Tock To Go offered a solution for restaurants to sell pre-paid meals to go on a time-slotted basis. This provided clients with a lifeline to keep revenue coming in so they could keep staff employed while also managing their kitchen capacity during peak hours.

Tock was able to act so rapidly and address the need for pre-payment from customers thanks to the solid technological underpinnings of its application design and architecture. Building the application on top of an open source database running on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) allowed the Tock team to innovate quickly to support its business and technical requirements as the world shifted so rapidly.

Tock established themselves as a game changer for their customers not just for the immediate pivot to take-out but the long term change in the restaurant industry towards lower capacity indoor dining, higher volume of take-out/delivery while avoiding the margin hit of up to 30%, many delivery services command.

COVID-19 has impacted every business around the world and has changed our behaviours in significant ways. Companies, big and small, are realising the benefits of moving to the cloud to deal with these unprecedented challenges and keep up with changing times. Are you ready?

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Franz Aman is the CMO at MariaDB Corporation, and brings more than 25 years of experience in leadership and innovation across marketing, including global product marketing, product management, strategy, brand and communications. Franz holds a degree in geophysics from Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany. He has held numerous executive positions within industry-leading technology companies, including Informatica, SAP, BusinessObjects, BEA Systems, SGI and Sun Microsystems.

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