The global economy is prone to economic downturns and geopolitical tensions. War in Ukraine and supply chain disruptions emphasize the need to adapt businesses to the changing economic climate.
In an era of unpredictable markets and geopolitical uncertainties, cloud technologies have become the backbone of business resilience. The ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances is crucial, and cloud computing provides the necessary infrastructure and solutions to achieve just that. According to a recent survey of 500 senior decision makers by HCLTech in partnership with FT Longitude, Cloud Evolution: Make innovation a habit, cloud has helped companies respond to geopolitical changes (89 percent), global supply chain issues (87 percent) and rising inflation (77 percent).
In the Ukraine-Russia war, both nations embraced several technological advancements and trends to influence the dynamics of the conflict. From Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones and Electronic Warfare Systems (EWS) to cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure, government networks and communication systems—both sides of the conflict have utilized technologies for reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting and gaining a strategic advantage.
Additionally, disinformation campaigns and propaganda dissemination through social media and online platforms have been utilized to shape the narratives and influence public opinion.
Ukraine’s data migration to cloud
A week before the Russian military invaded the country, Ukraine’s parliament passed legislation to allow government and private sector data to be moved to the cloud. In a strategic move to enhance data resilience, protect and manage critical data and ensure continuity amidst the chaos of the war, Ukraine harnessed the power of AWS to securely migrate data to the cloud.
Siki Giunta, EVP and Head, CloudSmart, HCLTech, says: “Ukraine started their digital transformation before the war and accelerated it to a new level. Recognizing the need for a robust and resilient data infrastructure, Ukraine government literally moved 95 percent of all population data to a hyperscale data center in Poland. Today they are running a lot of their governance from that datacenter.”
Cloud technologies, including AWS disaster recovery services, have enabled Ukrainian businesses to maintain operations and ensure business continuity amidst the challenges of war. By adopting cloud-based platforms, such as AWS’s GovCloud, the country streamlined administrative processes, improved citizen services and enhanced government transparency.
Commenting on the data movement, Giunta adds: “In the midst of significant macroeconomic challenges and geopolitical changes, you need speed—speed to collect the data, move the data and leverage the gravity of the data. It isn't application that they need to move in any economical or geopolitical catastrophe—it is the DATA.”
Gavin Westwood, Senior Vice President – Strategic Engagements, Europe at HCLTech, elaborates further: “Most large companies have some number of operations in Russia; cloud provides an enormous benefit for these companies. It helps them to avoid a catastrophe of losing control of their compute and their data. Ukraine’s ability to move the data quickly and securely to the edge and store the data in another, safer location was only possible because their cloud strategy was evolving to support this.”
“We always encourage our clients to prepare for unknown events. Maybe not as severe as a war or as dangerous as a pandemic, but events that will change the course of your business, and brand globally. Adopting a strategy like HCLTech’s CloudSMART can provide the agility and resilience your business will need in the short and long term,” adds Giunta.
The rise of cybersecurity in the conflict
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has ushered in a new era of warfare, where cyber threats and technological advancements play increasingly significant roles. Researchers discovered flurries of cyber operations and attacks during the war.
Recognizing the critical role of cybersecurity in modern warfare, the countries made significant strides to strengthen their cyber defenses. From the establishing specialized cyber defense units to the deployment of cutting-edge technologies, the nation has enhanced its cyber defense by establishing dedicated agencies, such as the National Coordination Center for Cybersecurity, to coordinate efforts, develop strategies and share threat intelligence.
“Cybersecurity was totally controlled using the cloud,” says Giunta. “The entire state, an entire country, can manage the data and transactions related to population management on the cloud—imagine data for 42 million citizens on the cloud. This is a dramatic example of the resilience and scalability of the cloud in the face of geopolitical challenges.”
Commenting on cybersecurity defense, Westwood adds: “By fortifying its digital borders and leveraging cloud technologies, the nation equipped itself to protect critical infrastructure, ensure national security and respond effectively to the complexities of the war. As the conflict progresses, continuous investment in cybersecurity and technological advancements will be crucial in maintaining Ukraine’s resilience in the face of emerging threats.”
Adapting to the changing battlefields
The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a testament to the pivotal role cloud technologies play in economic resilience. When global lockdowns and remote work became the norm, businesses that had already embraced cloud computing were better positioned to adapt.
Cloud-powered collaboration tools facilitated remote work and ensured continuity in operations, mitigating the economic impact of physical office closures. The scalability of cloud infrastructure enabled organizations to respond swiftly to changing customer demands, while cloud's robust security measures protected critical data in an era of heightened cyber threats.
Most senior executives in HCLTech’s cloud research have had to pivot their business strategy at least twice in the past three years, and 87 percent of the ones who have successfully pivoted say they could not have done so without cloud. The key drivers for embarking on this cloud transformation journey were flexibility, scale, speed-to-market and continuous innovation, with the ultimate aim of improving the delivery and innovation of life saving products.
“HCLTech’s collaboration with Merck, the pharmaceutical innovator, is a perfect example of a company that was able to leverage the challenge of the global health crisis to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their clinical trial process,” says Giunta.
At the onset of the pandemic, the company’s clinical trial system was about 36 months. They knew that the challenge to find and produce a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19 was critical. However, they also knew that improving their clinical trial process, speeding it up, would have a long-term impact on the company, making them more competitive.
Merck took a deep look at the movement of the data and the many concatenations of the data during the trial process. They set an aggressive target of 12 months. In 2020, the system supporting clinical trials was not in cloud. They created a project that they called Blue Sky to migrate the applications, processes and data to the AWS cloud.
Giunta explains: “HCLTech modernized Merck’s applications, moved them to AWS, and worked with them to enable the new model that substantially reduced the time required for conducting clinical trials. This had a positive impact to their bottom line and a profound impact on their ability to safe human lives with early availability of an effective COVID vaccine.”
The pandemic triggered significant disruptions across various sectors and economies globally, presenting substantial macroeconomic challenges. Cloud technologies played a crucial role in addressing these challenges and supporting economic recovery.
To discover more insights from HCLTech’s cloud research, Cloud Evolution: Make innovation a habit, click here.