The Role of Software During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by: Brian Dawson
4 min read

There’s almost no comparison in recent history to what we’re experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic. That was the big takeway from my recent conversation with CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey on episode 78 of DevOps Radio. The closest thing might be the dot-com meltdown in the late 1990s or the 2008 financial crisis. But it’s so much different this time, because it’s not just about whether you’ll lose your job – or your business – but whether you and your loved ones will get sick and even die.

The virus is impacting business in a big way. For software companies, the economic fallout from the crisis will act as an accelerator. It's likely to spur business consolidation, for example, because there won’t be enough room in the market for all the current players, especially in DevOps.

For businesses that use software, the current situation has proven that it’s one of the most resilient parts of the enterprise. Sacha has talked to a lot of companies who say, “We need to be careful now with our investments, but we’re doubling down on software because that’s what kept running and generating value." 

For some of our customers, the pandemic’s impact – aside from the anxiety – has been relatively mild, amounting to little more than some latency issues as everybody shifts to working from home. A big wave of VPN upgrades has mostly solved that bottleneck.

Some companies worried that employee productivity might suffer with the transition. Would people be playing with their cat all day long and only working 30 minutes? Ultimately, it's all about trust and focusing on the outcome. At CloudBees, we are a completely distributed, remote company. Being remote is normal at our organization.

Virtual water cooler

Unfortunately the virus outbreak has disrupted the basic human desire for socialization and connection – perhaps the most important benefit of office life. But there are things you can do to compensate. For a long time, we at CloudBees have held once-a-week virtual “water coolers” to try to replicate the beloved office tradition. It’s a great chance for people to trade news, vent any gripes they may have, or just rally around a cause. When done right, these remote get-togethers give people the feeling of being part of the same team, and that’s great for morale.

During this podcast episode, we also discussed cloud adoption. From a technology standpoint, the pandemic has made the cloud an obvious choice. It showed that your people work in the cloud, not in your corporate datacenter. So when you're working from home, you're actually part of the cloud. If think if you're leveraging the cloud and have a resilient way to push software to production, you're going to be much safer and nimbler during this crisis and the next.

As the fallout from the virus lingers, companies will continue to face tough situations. Most will make it through, but some won’t. Now more than ever, you need to push ahead with those innovations that can help you thrive and differentiate in the face of adversity. Efficient software delivery and automation is your ally in these times, helping free up the resources you need to drive those cool projects that represent the future of your organization. 

Looking ahead, we need to think about what we’re going to do if this crisis lasts a lot longer. In the U.S., they’re talking about a second wave. Who knows? This is not the time to look at the ceiling and do nothing. Now is when you need to get your ducks in a row and prepare. Everything we do going forward needs to incorporate the notion of being resilient.

One final thought, Sacha shares, which is not at all related to software. "It's easy during these crazy times to forget to step back and look at the big picture. Remember to take care of yourself. And take care of others. That's how we're all going to get through this." 

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