Right now, the cloud is new and exotic. While the number of businesses that use the cloud is approaching the 75-85 percent range, the amount of actual data on the cloud is still relatively small — a few exabytes at best vs. the five or so zettabytes that make up the entire global load. This is why it is still somewhat of a status symbol among data center techies if they can say, “yeah, I’m running a few workloads on the cloud”.
But if the growth projections are accurate, it won’t be long before the cloud becomes the go-to solution for both storage and application needs. Regardless of whether the actual systems that hold and process data are housed in the local data center or in a third-party facility, they will most likely be cloud-based by the end of the decade. The last bare-metal holdouts will be reserved for only the highest-priority, most mission-critical functions.
Naturally, this represents a fundamental shift in the way data is both managed and utilized, not just for the enterprise but virtually anyone who powers up a PC or turns on a cell phone. The impact this will have on security, governance, productivity and a host of other factors have been dealt with by countless bloggers across the Web, so I’m going to take a step back from those micro issues for a moment and talk a little about how it will change the way we utilize data in our personal and professional lives.
One thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that there will be no escaping the digital universe. The cloud makes it possible to handle orders of magnitude more data than traditional infrastructure, at a fraction of the cost, and industries across the globe are preparing to leverage this state of affairs by adding data collection and transmission capabilities to just about everything we buy — from cell phones to car tires to new-fangled eco light bulbs. Heck, if Google has its way, our glasses and even contact lenses will soon be able to keep a digital record of everything we do and say.
Under this ‘Internet of Everything’ as it is being called, our digital selves will become even more important in the furtherance of our goals, both processional and personal. In the old days, crucial, life-altering relationships developed primarily through face-to-face contact — at parties, trade shows and other functions. These days, they are just as likely to arise from Facebook and LinkedIn, with audio/video conferencing taking the place of national or even regional confabs.
Life itself, then, will move at an increasingly brisk pace. Products, particularly software, will be developed and put on the market faster, trends will come and go at a more quickly, finite sets of information will circulate around the globe, and virtually any service or application will be available with a customized server/storage/networking ecosystem in the blink of an eye. Our children’s children will wonder why their parents ever had to ‘download’ apps or music to those big, clunky smartphone things.
But even while we become awash in information, the cloud will also make it easier to parse through it all to find the crucial pieces of data that make the difference between success and failure. Big Data analytics have been designed with the cloud in mind, leveraging both its storage capacity and core processing capabilities to sift through data faster and more efficiently than any one mainframe or rack-filled data center could hope, and turning up nuggets of digital gold even if users are not exactly sure what they are looking for.
At the same time, we’ll be able to drill ever deeper into worldwide data patterns in order to make connections that would otherwise go unnoticed. Buyers and sellers will link up no matter how remote. Collaborative environments will seem almost natural as individuals harness the proper resources and talents to further their projects. Personalized data experiences will become the norm, even if the users of this data are relatively few in number. Forget about micromarketing, we’re well on the way to nanomarketing where finding that one person out of a billion is no longer the stuff of dreams, or chance.
And all of this is the result of the federation of data infrastructure in the cloud. In this brave new world, individuals will be able to spin up the data environment of their choice just as major corporations have been doing for years, and no one will ever hear that “resources or services are not available”, provided they have the ability to pay for them.
It may have become cliché to call the cloud “the new data paradigm”, but that does not mean it’s hyperbole. The cloud is remaking everything from core data and telecom infrastructure to the most esoteric mobile app.
For those in the data and infrastructure industries, the time to get on the right side of history is now.