The all-encompassing cloud will come of age in 2014 – The age of the consumer

It’s a bold statement. Let me explain…

Back in 1999 a theory emerged that suggested in the future everything would connect. The future is here.

This is a notion we are going to hear more and more about in the coming year… This is the idea of ‘IoT’. The Internet of Everything. There is an excellent explanation on Wikipedia, but in a nutshell, IoT says everything we do at work, at play and in our sleep; All the organisations we sign-up to, the clubs we join, the places we shop, the things we consume, the websites we visit etc. etc. etc. are all joined-up because they are all identifiable and recognised by a huge central computer. All this data being drawn into a black hole and then blasted out again in a billion different directions. There is, of course, no huge central computer, but the world is ringed, enveloped and linked together through billions of computing devises all with a common thread running through them… the internet. And now there is a central deposit for all this accumulated wisdom… the Cloud. To some this sounds a little ‘Big Brotherish’. But what is happening in the cloud is evolution not revolution.

I recall a better vision of the future than George Orwell’s… As a teenager I remember going to the Cinema to see a movie called Rollerball. A story about a mega-star sportsman, a player of a murderous global sport called Rollerball (A kind of David Beckham with weapons and roller-skates) who sets out to find out if there is any meaning in his life. On his quest the hero visits an elderly professor who runs a computer called Zero. Zero is the font of all knowledge and all knowledge is held in liquid form, suspended in a vast vat if free flowing information. When our hero meets the professor he is panicking because Zero has mislaid the 13th Century. The original story was written 50 years ago – but it predictions were headed in the right direction. Take a look at the clip on YouTube:

Back in 1999 when the cloud and IoT was first being muted, the idea focussed on RFID (that radio wave emitting technology which can identify and link you to your Oyster card, your Barclaycard or protecting and validating a famous brand as genuine) as the glue which would bind the Internet of Everything together. RFID is a part of the story but only a part.

Transputec ran a snapshot survey last month. We questioned our customers about the cloud. What the survey highlighted was the way in which company decision makers understood and accepted how cloud computing is now an integral part of their lives – and not just at work. It also overwhelmingly highlighted how business people see cloud computing as a major asset to their business practice.

Many of the participants left comments. Most saw cloud computing as a way of storing our company records, or keeping our music files ‘off world’ so we don’t use up all the memory on our mobile phone of iPad. But, in truth the power of cloud computing is far more all encompassing. It is the engine, which will drive not only business but also our lives.

A small percentage still has reservations and is wary – this was mainly about security surrounding their data in the cloud. But, overall it was the excitement surrounding the potential of the Cloud. It is simply the fastest way for any business to reach the right customers. If you are not up there you are not there at all.

Here’s a good example of this shift in perception: Forbes Magazine has just published its list of best and worst performing cloud computing stock for the year. And as if to prove a point that the cloud is now all pervasive the list is topped by Amazon. Amazon is a perfect model to demonstrate where the expanding universe of cloud computing is headed.

So what of 2014…

Forrester research says cloud computing will herald the ‘Age of the consumer’ next year.

Also, check out James Staten’s predictions for 2014 on the CIO website.

Finally, Here are my three predictions for the cloud and the way it will play an increasing role in our lives:

1) Get APPropriate:

This will be the way forward for a vast majority of businesses, which need to cultivate that link via the cloud between them and their customers. Niche, platform agnostic Apps that form a direct, continual and intimate links between supplier and customer will be the way winning businesses go.

2) Who’s who in the cloud:

I believe cloud solutions will streamline identity management. This was an area highlighted in our Transputec survey and this will be an area where we will be taking a lead. As businesses move towards embedding their resources in the cloud, demands for more robust security technologies will increase. From industry to the regulators – the ‘S’ word will be a major focus next year.

3) Public vs Private

The debate over which direction to go – public cloud or private cloud will get hotter. A swathe of theory and product which advances the hybrid alternative will be a major talking point – and a revenue generator. The safe intimacy of one over the storage and power of the other will throw up a host of solutions and could draw those businesses into the cloud which have until now been stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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