The minute the New Year begins the clock starts ticking, ever advancing to close out the year that has just begun. This is just the way time works. From a beginning an ending is sure to follow. For cloud computing to be truly successful it needs an ending too.

I would suggest that ending is ubiquity. The cloud should become so important, so successful, that it permeates our working habits and the provision of our services to such a degree that we don’t even mention it. The final goal will be reached when the term cloud computing becomes unnecessary.

Consider the adoption of the automobile in the early 1900s. Once the price of ownership came down with mass production and the public could afford to buy one the only question was need. Some people weren’t sure what they would need a car for or how it had the potential to transform their lives. But technology has a way of answering questions we didn’t know we had. Marketing, even back then, was important to help sell the car concept and persuade the public.

No one has to explain the importance or adoption of cars to us anymore. Since the car stopped being a science experiment and assumed the role of transporter the debate has largely disappeared. Today cars are sold individually on their features, efficiency, size and social aspiration. Wheels, the drive train and the engine are as important as the colour and seating layout. The public aren’t told they need a car, only which one they might like to buy.

Like cars cloud computing is beginning to take hold and become commonplace. While it still has a long way to go the affects of the technology are already being felt; and this is helping it make deeper connections into our offices and homes.

For many cloud computing is often associated with storage and productivity. Services like Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, Microsoft Office 365 and even Apple’s iCloud make-up what the public commonly associates with the cloud. But for those of us in the industry we know the cloud has bigger capabilities. One of those capabilities is big data. It is driving decisions with insight and doing so ubiquitously.

Supermarket chains are already leveraging big data. Monitoring your shopping habits and offering discounts that match your profile the supermarkets are aggregating data to improve marketing and increase profits. Collation and the application of the data happens almost invisibly to the public. But supermarkets aren’t the only ones doing this.

The MetOffice uses a supercomputer to analyse terabytes of data to help it predict our weather. In the future big data has the potential to accelerate our understanding of medical conditions helping us create more effective treatments. When we look at the receipt for our weekly shop and the coupons subsequently offered, just like the presenter on TV telling us it will rain in the afternoon, we don’t see cloud computing at work. If anything we observe, or rather enjoy, its benefits.

One aspect that is completely visible is the role of the provider. The supermarkets are large, individual brands whose collective scale makes it possible to offer us goods at a price we can afford. We identify with certain brands and choose those that offer each of the services we believe we want or need. Like the car manufacturers their expertise, the variety on offer, is how their sales pitch is defined. This pitch defines the parameters we use to determine our preference. Instead of brake horsepower and chrome alloys it is cheaper milk and eggs. The service, the product provided, is sold on features not adoption.

Looking back now it may seem strange to have had to convince people of the importance and use of a car. The concept itself is now effectively invisible. The public sees only the features and price of a given product, be it Ford, Toyota, Mercedes or BMW.

The future of cloud computing will be framed by branded provision – where the debate will focus on speed, scalability and the productivity it enables. But the concept of cloud will no longer be important. What the cloud is able to achieve and how it supports efficiencies and manages data certainly will.
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CIF Presents TWF – Andrew Grill


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