A new study from Cloudreach and IDC entitled “Cloud Trends 2021” (registration required) surveyed more than 200 CIOs. Questions focused on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the use of cloud computing and digital transformation. Keep in mind that the sponsor has a dog in the hunt in that they sell technology.

Of course, it’s the usual “cloud is good,” “cloud is important” stuff you find in most other analyst reports. However, the number that I found interesting is that 27.5 percent stated that large-scale migration to the public cloud was “essential for survival.” Hop in a time machine and just five years ago most enterprises considered cloud as an option for consuming technology such storage and compute, but really not essential. What changed?

When the pandemic first hit with its associated lockdowns, those with physical infrastructure, such as traditional enterprise data centers, were at a disadvantage. They not only couldn’t scale up to support a remote workforce, but in some cases they couldn’t even get qualified staffers physically into the data centers to swap out servers, fix power supplies, or correct network issues. The non-cloud part of the business suffered—at least it increased risk to an unacceptable level.

Businesses learn from pain. What occurred in 2020 will be part of strategic planning for the next decade, with the public cloud viewed as a safe harbor, rather than just an option for consumption. What does this mean for your business?

First, if the cloud is essential, then you need to plan for times when things go wrong. Although outages are rare, in most cases they are caused by avoidable user errors. This means you need to put more planning into business continuity/disaster recovery systems as well as into cross-cloud redundancy.

Enterprises that use cloud may believe that resiliency is built in to the cloud and such planning is really not needed. But public clouds use a shared responsibility model, and most of the planning to keep systems going falls on enterprise IT.

Second, you need to be concerned about possible actions by your cloud provider. Keep in mind that they can terminate service if they think they have a reason, or they may hand over your data to authorities depending on the laws of the land. You need to ask a great number of questions to make sure these issues are handled in any legal agreements.

For most enterprises this means not having all of your eggs in one basket. Multicloud not only provides you with best-of-breed cloud services but mitigates the risk of your cloud provider “breaking bad” on you.

This is a good thing. Dependency on public cloud providers means that we’ll have access to better technology moving forward. With a bit of planning and forethought, we’ll be just fine.