COVID-19 brings us in a situation that, until recently, was only part of some books and Hollywood movies. It turns out that we have to adjust our habits, our daily life, and our business with it. And to live and work more or less differently from what we were used to so far. Some companies manage to reorganize with remote work. Many business processes that have already been digitalized – such as email and video conferencing – need little or no adaptation. Others, however – where there is low, missing, or delayed automation – now they are facing more difficulties.
However, we need to realize that even established digital processes were not in line with today’s situation. A standard service such as storing company files and documents is often planned with the assumption that people are in one office, or at least in a single and trusted corporate network. Planning is rarely such that the work from multiple home offices and employees using their home Internet access from a variety of providers is acceptable without sacrificing security. The so popular VPN (virtual private network) solutions can be trusted only if they are appropriately deployed. Using a VPN from a commercial provider, do not guarantee any privacy. This only shifts the trust from the ISP to the VPN provider.
Cloud-based file storage and sharing solutions such as NextCloud are very affordable and easy to integrate. Additionally, it provides out-of-the-box encryption between users and the server (encryption-in-transit). And if necessary, encrypting the data on the server itself (encryption-at-rest) ensures that even our cloud provider cannot access our corporate data. So we can completely own our piece of the cloud, yet it is a public cloud. And you don’t need to trust Google naïvely anymore.
The TrakiaTech team uses its own NextCloud instance as a fully functional replacement of Google Drive/Docs or Dropbox. It is responsible not only for our files but also for our calendars, task lists, address books, and we are using it even as a web-based office.
Video conferencing applications, such as Jitsi, which we also use and highly recommend to any organization, can also be installed on a cloud infrastructure under own control. Jitsi is open-source software and can be freely implemented. This gives us confidence that the communication between each of us to the server is secure and encrypted, and it is under our control. This also means that nobody can secretly record or broadcast our conversations elsewhere without our knowledge.
Security is a process, not a product. We can’t buy it in a box and forget about it. Every solution, system, or business process must be designed and implemented with relevant security considerations. And this is not necessarily expensive. Many very affordable open source solutions have matured and become standards of stability and security. Many of them any business can afford.
The more flexible, digital, and automated we were before the crisis, the easier it is now to reorganize our business following the current situation. But even during a crisis like this, it is possible to optimize and digitalize unfinished or non-launched processes.
Before the crisis, we had to do it because of the future. Now the main reason stays the same. The crisis only adds a little more urgency or exclusivity to it.
Clouds, flexibility, and cost-optimizations
Cloud solutions themselves provide flexibility and financial efficiency – which is even more critical in a crisis – in two ways. The first one is by replacing the significant investment cost for infrastructure (servers, storage, software), which must be mad themselves provide flexibility and financial efficiency – which is even more critical in a crisis – in two ways. The first one is by replacing the significant investment cost for infrastructure (servers, storage, software), which must be made before launching a new system. Those investments can be replaced with monthly invoices. You don’t have to invest in equipment up front anymore if you can rent it when you need it. The option to resize (or reduce) the size of your infrastructure gives you flexibility. You can even stop it if you don’t need it anymore. Or if your project becomes a failure. It happens.
Otherwise, this makes it possible to reschedule your investments over time. There is no need for a considerable initial cost anymore – you can start small and pay as you grow. The second benefit is that this money, which is otherwise a capital expenditure (CapEx), becomes operational (OpEx).