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In the digital economy, businesses are embracing new tools every day. Which one reigns supreme? A 2021 Bank of Canada survey found that cloud computing is the most used technology of all, with two-thirds of companies surveyed already having adopted it.

Canadian businesses of all sizes are leveraging the cloud for housing data, ensuring security and reliability, and powering their technology applications and e-commerce. For many businesses, the cloud is also the key to growth.

Businesses dream of the time when customer demand for their business solution or service skyrockets. The challenge is often being in a position to meet that surge. When that day came for Kidoodle.TV — a children’s television streaming service — the Calgary-based firm was ready, largely because of their use of the cloud.

With kids spending more time at home and online during the pandemic, viewership of Kidoodle.TV spiked. Through 2020, monthly active users jumped 3,200 per cent. The company wouldn’t exist today if not for cloud technology solutions, says chief technology officer, Daniel Riddell.

“It would have been far too costly to own all the infrastructure to run a streaming service,” says Mr. Riddell.

Kidoodle.TV avoided huge overhead costs and gained agility by relying on Amazon Web Services (AWS), a business-to-business company that offers over 200 cloud computing solutions, from databases and analytics to artificial intelligence and storage.

Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT services and solutions via the web. Organizations can acquire a broad range of technology without the needs to direct their own IT teams to or hire more resources for development and maintenance. The capacity required can grow or shrink instantly, and customers only pay for what they use.

To support their growth in content and advertising, Kidoodle.TV expanded its use of one of AWS’ storage services, along with one of its services for video providers.

Affordable support for all

In the past, leveraging technology’s capabilities to their fullest meant spending a lot on hardware and software, plus ongoing costs for operation and maintenance. In the last decade, however, cloud computing has offered a more affordable alternative.

A global report from Accenture, based on a survey of nearly 4,000 executives, says cost savings are just one of the many benefits of getting started with cloud technologies. Visionary companies are using cloud to support their innovation, develop new operating models and to drive tangible business outcomes.

Like other users, Kidoodle.TV was able to scale technology needs quickly and cost-effectively as their business grew. And because the company didn’t have to invest in costly capital expenditures like servers, they had the capacity to invest in people, tripling their staff.

With data stored off-site by cloud providers, businesses can also operate their networks in a highly secure environment using the latest cybersecurity tools. That’s critical given the extent to which companies of all sizes face cyber breaches and attacks. For AWS, security is their top priority and competency; their customers report 43 per cent fewer monthly security incidents on average.

As well, small firms can afford new technologies like data analytics and machine learning, which were previously available only to bigger companies with large budgets. Some cloud providers even provide scalable call centres on-demand.

Another big advantage of the cloud is flexibility. “With cloud computing you can use different services at different points and turn them off and on as required,” says Eric Gales country manager of AWS Canada. “Without the cloud, you had to have enough computing resources to deal with peak load, with that additional capacity sitting idle the rest of the year.”

Stay ready for expansion

Mabel’s Labels faced that problem until it shifted to a cloud model. The Hamilton-based business creates personalized labels for children’s items like lunchboxes and backpacks. Demand for their products typically rises at the start of every school year, and tapers off for the remainder of the year, says Mike deBruin, IT director at Mabel’s Labels.

Peak periods generate 10 times the average orders. With a cloud infrastructure from AWS, Mabel’s Labels can quickly scale up their order fulfillment and their e-commerce experience.

More broadly, the cloud is the ideal platform for growth. That was certainly true for Zamir Khan, a software engineer and an entrepreneur based in London, Ontario.

Mr. Khan founded Memento in 2018 to help family and friends produce group videos for special occasions. He ran the company out of his home. Suddenly in 2020, in the early days of COVID, Mr. Khan faced a crossroads. Memento had to quench the insatiable thirst of consumers who wanted to celebrate life milestones they could no longer attend in person.

“When the pandemic hit, demand soared,” says Mr. Khan. “Between March and May 2020, usage went from 300 users a day to 130,000 a day.”

He was the sole employee, but thanks to Memento’s cloud-based architecture on AWS, Mr. Khan didn’t miss a beat. He was able to easily expand services to meet demand, despite being the only employee at the time. In June 2021, Memento was acquired by Punchbowl, Inc., the company behind the critically acclaimed technology platform for online invitations and digital greeting cards.

What if Memento had relied on its own IT infrastructure? Mr. Khan acknowledges that he wouldn’t have been ready for exponential growth.

For cloud computing users, another benefit is that their technology is never out-of-date. Working with AWS helps Mabel’s Labels to meet customers’ expectations about the e-commerce experience, which “is constantly ratcheting upward,” Mr. deBruin says.

Many users are drawn to AWS not only because they can ramp up their technology infrastructure seamlessly, but because AWS develops industry-leading tools for its sister company, Amazon.

“Amazon is constantly solving its own problems using the cloud,” Mr. deBruin says. “So a huge benefit is that those technologies become available to AWS customers like us.”

Learn more about how cloud migration can position your business for growth.

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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