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The cloud might seem like a fairly recent development, but the concept is more than half a century old. It’s simply been updated for today’s age of anywhere, anytime computing. And since its inception as time-sharing—in which multiple users accessed the same computing resources simultaneously—the cloud has impacted just about every area of our lives.
We now use the cloud—i.e., remote compute and storage—for the same reason that researchers did in the 1960s: to spread the cost of expensive resources. Back then, users reached mainframe computers through teletype machines. Today, we connect with data centers through laptops and mobile devices, but the idea is the same.
In fact, one of those early researchers, J.R. Licklider, predicted the modern data center in an influential 1960 paper as a “thinking center.” In the same paper, he also foresaw the internet as “a network of such centers, connected to one another by wide-band communication lines and to individual users.”
Over the next few months here on the T5 blog, we’ll explore ten of the top established and emerging cloud technologies, along with how they’re changing our lives. Here’s a preview.
Gartner estimates the number of devices connected to the internet at 14.2 billion and growing fast. IoT devices let us interact with our machines, our homes, and our businesses in ways never before possible.
Why install software on one machine at a time when you can subscribe to always-up-to-date services on as many devices as you like? Gartner predicts that cloud application service revenue will hit $85.1 billion in 2019.
Voice-activated cloud assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant have taken off with the rise of smart speakers. Fifty-three million Americans now own the devices, with the number of devices increasing 78% every year, according to NPR and Edison Research.
In 1968’s Mother of All Demos, Stanford researcher Doug Engelbart showed off video chat and collaborative word processing for the first time. He got a standing ovation. Many businesses now depend on these cloud capabilities.
Where would Netflix be without the cloud? Subscription-based video streaming is now a $20-billion business in the US alone, projected to rise to $30.6 billion by 2022.
Here’s what’s next, bringing even more capabilities to the cloud.
Cloud applications that digitally enhance our physical environments and bring us together in virtual worlds promise to change the way we work and play.
High-speed networks will increasingly enable remote diagnostics and even telesurgery, bringing healthcare to millions of people currently without access.
The next-generation mobile network, 5G, can deliver speeds rivaling the best wired connections, turbocharging cloud applications on the go.
More than half of the world’s population remains offline, according to the UN. Faster, beefier undersea cables, off-grid cell towers, and new broadband satellites will soon help connect millions more people to the cloud.
The internet depends on data streaming into and out of data centers, just as Licklider predicted. And data centers that are well positioned to tap the necessary bandwidth will contribute most to the expansion of the cloud.
Stay tuned for a deeper dive into each of these transformative cloud technologies in the weeks to come.