As far as change agents go in terms of technology, cloud computing has done its fair bit. Most large IT companies are investing heavily and those who do not have any cloud programs yet are starting to get involved by buying companies already active in the cloud.
To me, this is just the start of a whole new era. I am very happy with that as I believe that automating IT operations will be the market maker for the massive change initiated by the cloud. As you will read in an upcoming blog post (How to keep Cloud Computing from becoming an epic fail), most IT is still in legacy systems and as long as the cloud is not unlocked for these applications, the idea of cloud computing is big, but its application is severely limited to those users who are willing to rely on standard software and services and those who have the resources or need to re-implement whatever they are using. Automation in IT operations will be the ground-breaking change that unlocks the cloud to all the rest – but as I said, that will be part of another article.
Today, I want to take a little glance at the future and show why I believe that new technologies (especially 4G) will be the biggest drivers towards cloud computing and IT in general yet.
To make any kind of prognosis on future development, it is quite useful to look at the past and at the status quo of IT. Right now, most IT is used either in the B2B area or at predictable times at home. That makes the IT usage very easily manageable and it actually means that we can see what kinds of applications will be used at what time. Imagine the usage of IT to look somewhat like the power usage curve that has a clear pattern over the day (everyone uses power in the morning to make coffee, only little power on the way to work, etc.). This holds true, even if we divide this into different application areas and even if we admit that there are a lot of people out there sitting at their desks and using Facebook and other nice things privately instead of doing whatever they are actually paid to do. The current application and IT usage curves are very distinct and distinctly separable.
This is what makes the idea of cloud computing attractive in the first place. As you can see from graph 1 there is a trend line that shows overall IT usage. So, if we can have an IT platform that everyone shares and only pay for what they use, the overall spend on hardware, energy and premises will be reduced massively. Actually, that is what the current cloud hype is all about.
When we look at all the IT resources available today, we could close down 80% of all data centres and give the toxic waste recycling industry a big boost to get rid of all the servers we won´t need anymore. But that would be ever so short-sighted. And that is actually why most of the IT biggies are out there building or buying new data centres (which we would not need if we just converted everything we have today into the cloud).
So where will all this additional demand for computing power come from??? If we are no longer looking at individual IT usage curves, the average usage will exceed even the IT resources available today. Implementing 4G on a global scale will have exactly that effect.
Why? Well, even at the 1992 web conference the term “Web Tone” was invented, and it meant to give everybody access to information from any device, at any time, anywhere. Now we have gone from information to application and with Web 3.0 on the horizon, we will go from applications to knowledge and knowledge applications which will not only be available to anyone (in the industrialised world) from anywhere anytime, but which will be used by everyone all of the time from everywhere. In order to make this vision reality, the pre-condition that is yet unmet is the availability of cheap broadband mobile network access and that is what 4G will do for us.
A data-sphere with intuitive (not just multi-touch) interfaces – and we can see some of them already evolving with the 6th sense or the Xbox natal – will become a reality in the industrialised world that is moving from production to knowledge society at a slow but steady place. This will mean everybody will use IT all of the time, since it is available all of the time through 4G and creates intuitive value though semantics (Web 3.0) as well as being usable (modern interfaces). And that again means that the currently available computing resources will not be enough and have to be scaled up. Since no single application or application group would be able to finance possible peak usage requirements in own IT resources, the combination of 4G driving the IT usage and the cloud making that IT available at reasonable cost – while using available technologies in semantics and human-machine-interfaces (HMI) – will make this game changing development that is so much desired by all users – business and consumer alike – possible.
To me it seems that the combination of 4G, Cloud Computing, Web 3.0 as well as new HMIs all becoming available at the same time, is the key to the next generation of IT applications as well as the key to finally unlock the door to a knowledge-driven and fully interconnected society.