Is the future of cloud computing as mysterious as geographical cloud formations?
Until fairly recently, cloud computing was a concept few people outside the world of software programming were familiar with. Today, it underpins everything from on-demand TV services and online gaming portals to email and social media – four cornerstones of our modern world. The cloud is here to stay, and there is intense speculation as to how cloud computing will develop over the coming years as its importance grows.
Gazing into crystal balls is a notoriously inexact science, but fortunately there is a broad consensus among many industry observers about where cloud computing will be by the end of this decade. For instance, it seems quite clear that more and more applications will be designed around cloud usage from the outset, rather than having it retrospectively added onto an existing platform. Forbes have claimed that over 40 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020, creating colossal data silos that can only be stored and managed by scalable cloud servers.
Perhaps inevitably, there will be major changes to the computer programming and software development industries. A major report by Evans Data Corporation last year suggested that less than a quarter of the world’s 18 million software developers were focusing on the cloud, which is remarkable given its meteoric levels of growth. From hosting services by VPS.NET through to third-party app developers, an ever-increasing proportion of computing will centre on cloud-hosted platforms. Software is leading this sea-change, with many of the world’s leading games and commercial platforms already cloud-hosted with a proprietary interface rather than being installed on a user’s device in the time-honoured manner.
The industry leaders in the Infrastructure as a Service sector are arch-rivals Google and Microsoft, along with Amazon’s dedicated Web Services division. These three titans offer scalable and cost-effective cloud resources that already host many of the world’s leading companies and brands; Amazon alone claim to have customers in 190 countries. It is expected that these three data warehousing providers will tighten their grip on large-scale cloud hosting by 2020, thanks to their proprietary cutting-edge hardware and seemingly bottomless marketing budgets.
Small-scale data storage is another area that will increasingly migrate to the cloud. Despite some well-publicised leaks of compromised personal files, private cloud specialists like Dropbox and 100TB.com should continue their expansion as data is uploaded into the cloud rather than stored offline on data keys or DVD-ROMs. These devices will become largely redundant as fibre broadband, NFC and online file storage roll out across the UK. To resolve today’s understandable concerns about security, data centres should begin resembling fortresses instead of warehouses. Two-factor authentication is likely to become the norm rather than the exception, and many of today’s IT startups are exclusively concerned with improving cloud security over the coming years.
Ironically, the ubiquity of cloud hosting might actually negate the word ‘cloud’ from use by 2020. In the same way that webmail is now simply known as email, consumers will assume data storage and hosting are being handled in the cloud unless they’re specifically told otherwise. This will happen in tandem with a blurring of the boundaries between desktop and mobile devices, as smartphones continue to enlarge and tablet devices become more synonymous with SAAS business platforms like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud. With the majority of internet access already conducted via mobile devices, and growing numbers of employees working remotely for part or all of the time, universal accessibility to corporate servers and files will become ever-more crucial as this decade approaches its end.
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