How Cloud Computing Can Help Us Survive the COVID-19 Crisis


For the past four months, the new Coronavirus pandemic, aka COVID-19, have been wreaking havoc on the global economy. In this article Gilad Maayan, CEO, Agile SEO talks about while many industries suffer massive losses, others like face masks, Alcogel, and cloud computing, experience a new level of demand.

On December 31, 2019, China reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) about a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan. On January 7, Chinese authorities identified the cause of these clusters as a new type of coronavirus: novel coronavirus or nCoV. On February 11, WHO proposed an official name for the disease: COVID-19.

Almost three months after the initial report from China, on March 11, 2020, WHO declared: COVID-19 is a pandemic. Many questions were raised about the virus and its consequences, but very little is still truly understood. This type of uncertainty has bred mass panic and the subsequent demand for certain products and services.

Face masks, alcogel, and toilet paper have been especially popular. Remote and online technologiesOpens a new window like video conference tools and messaging apps have also been in high demand. However, it is cloud computing and on-premise data centers that power many of these in-demand technologies.

This article surveys the importance of cloud computing—the invisible force that powers many of the world’s digital operations.

Cloud Computing Resources at the Front of the COVID-19 Crisis

Before COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, the Internet played a significant role in the lives of more than half the world’s population. It was a primary deliverer of entertainment, a means of communication, and a source of commerce for many. Since COVID-19, this importance has only increased. Now the Internet and cloud computing have become vital to the education and employment of countless individuals in addition to gaining importance in its previous roles.

This shift has been made possible by the resilience of cloud services, which have modified strategies, resources, and services to adapt to a sudden spike in users. For example, Microsoft has reported a 775% spikeOpens a new window in demand for its services. Demand is so great that the company has had to place more restrictive caps on free offerings and has worked to prioritize COVID-19 related workloads.

Learn More: Working Through COVID-19: Best Practices for Remote Workforce Opens a new window

How Cloud Companies are Reacting to COVID-19Microsoft is not the only company that has worked to continue providing access to cloud services. Below are some examples of how some other big names in the cloud industry have adapted and how they are supporting the fight against coronavirus.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

On March 20, AWS announced its Diagnostic Development Initiative. This initiative has committed $20 million to organizations and individuals working to develop testing, diagnostics, or treatments for COVID-19.

This initiative was created with the help of a variety of other businesses and organizations, including 35 global research institutions. It is being run with the assistance of an external technical advisory group composed of global health policy experts and scientists.

Google Cloud

On March 27, Google announced an initiative of more than $800 million, set aside for small businesses and crisis responders. As part of this initiative, up to:

  • $250 million in ad grants is available to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • $200 million is being committed to an investment fund for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and financial institutions for support of small to medium businesses.
  • $340 million in Google ad credits is available to small businesses.
  • $20 million in GCP credits is available to researchers and academic institutions.
  • This initiative is in addition to aid that Google is giving to healthcare organizations. For example, several datasets containing public COVID-19 information have been given to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Google has also joined with the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, the University of California Health System, and the Mayo Clinic in efforts to collect and analyze health information.

Free access to advanced features of Hangouts Meet, Google’s video conferencing application, has also been provided. This access is available to all G Suite and G Suite for Education users.


On March 22, IBM announced the launch of the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium. This consortium was created in collaboration with a variety of organizations, including the US Department of Energy. This consortium collects together more than 16 systems, 330 petaflops of storage, 775,000 CPU cores, and 34,000 GPUs.

This processing power is being dedicated to researchers working to analyze the COVID-19 pandemic, including those working on treatments and cures. Researchers are able to gain access to these resources via proposals submitted to and approved by the consortium. Preference is being given to those projects which appear to have the most immediate impact on current conditions and knowledge.

Learn More: Modernizing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) With Kubernetes and Cloud Computing

How Cloud Computing Benefits Healthcare ResearchEven before the current crisis, many healthcare organizations and researchers were migrating their workloads and efforts to cloud resources. This migration is driven by the fact that cloud resources can help organizations derive insights that inform policy and treatment at a speed that is often impossible without the cloud. Cloud resources do this by offering the following benefits.


Cloud resources enable healthcare organizations to scale dynamically as data is collected and processed. These resources eliminate the need to wait for more equipment to be purchased, installed, or configured. This, in turn, allows researchers and providers to more quickly respond to situations, such as viral outbreaks.

Additionally, when organizations are able to easily scale existing resources, they are often able to avoid some complications. For example, those that come with compliance or the bureaucracy of getting resources approved.

Shared Data

All research, medical included, is enhanced by the ability to collaborate and share information across teams and organizations. The distributed nature of cloud resources enables researchers and organizations to collaborate on a global scale. This allows researchers to have a much wider impact on global communities. It also helps standardize the basis from which researchers are working, thus drastically speeding up progress.

Processing Power

Health research, particularly biomedical research, often requires massive resources. Huge datasets are needed to train machine learning models and inform statistical analyses. These data sets require processing power that many organizations could not afford if they had to purchase and maintain the equipment on their own.

Cloud computing, particularly high-performance computing (HPC) in the cloud, can provide researchers with this processing power as needed. This helps cut down on the costs of computing and can help organizations more efficiently share computing resources.


Like a wrecking ball, COVID-19 has swung its destructive powers on the global economy and the welfare of human life. This immense level of pressure is wreaking havoc on industries, constraining some into the sidelines while demanding too much of others.

Cloud computing is no exception—as demands increase, resources can become scarce. However, the scalable nature of cloud computing can help ensure that digital workloads remain viable. This, alongside the generous contributions of major cloud vendors, can help stabilize the sudden pressure on digital infrastructure.

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