When a new year comes around, we often consider what lies ahead professionally for the next twelve months – as we nestle back into normal working routines. For each individual, this will be largely unique, according to their own industries and ambitions. There are, however, pan-industry working trends that will comprise the new office vogue of that year. From a software perspective, this will involve cloud computing technology on a considerable scale in 2017. This technology will shape how business workers may operate more flexibly and efficiently. There are a small band of sceptics within the technology sector, however, who doubt that the cloud’s heyday will last. So what is the truth behind workplace technology of 2017?
What The Sceptics Say
There is a broad-ranging consensus that cloud computing has become the go-to IT solution in recent commerce at this point. This is not a debate about whether cloud computing will succeed; it has already done so. The issue in hand is how long it will remain a cutting-edge technology. A case has emerged in recent weeks arguing that the cloud will be supplanted by Internet of Things devices.
The cloud is a centralised system where data is stored and processed in one remote environment. Information is transmitted from device to cloud and back again. The case for IoT at cloud’s expense is that the devices themselves will shoulder more of the processing burden in future. Take, for instance, the example of a self-driving car. Machine-learning technology plays a key role in their development. Yet a machine that needs to react instantly to a pedestrian, or traffic light, surely can’t be waiting for a network connection to the cloud to instruct it? The car itself – at the edge of the cloud network – will have to process what’s going on.
This is one of the examples of automated machines that cloud-sceptics often cite. They apparently believe that the cloud, initially the platform on which IoT was built, will end up being swallowed by it.
Are The Sceptics Right?
There are certain devices, such as self-driving cars, which give so-called “edge computing” may have a place. This is effectively a halfway house: one foot in the cloud, the other on a local server. Yet in observing the broader outlook, the cloud’s harshest sceptics cannot deny the continued need for a cloud in 2017. Even in the instance of self-driving cars, the cloud will remain the place where data is offloaded to and stored. Old, processed data has to go somewhere. This also creates a veritable goldmine of information to improve machine-learning software from. For researchers, data is the new currency; that makes it a valuable commodity right across the private sector as well.
Furthermore, the cloud will retain and even extend its influence in commercial scenarios. The sceptics’ suggestion of “edge computing” does not address the modern business’ reliance on big data. Analysing large data clusters allows businesses to better inform their decision-making. The applications for doing so reside in the cloud. Other crucial functions, such as customer relationship management, also depend on cloud-based applications in the modern business world.
The Practicalities Of The Cloud
There are non-technical issues to be considered here also. The sceptics seem to have forgotten what attracted businesses to the cloud in the first place – namely, the costs and the potential for flexible use. Business owners, particularly in the case of startups, enjoyed the pay-as-you-use pricing models and scalable data capacity offered by cloud. They also appreciated the elimination of hardware expense when workers had the freedom to use their own devices. If devices suddenly require huge new processing power of their own, that sends hardware costs rocketing. Moving away from the cloud also dents business collaboration, particularly in terms of losing communication applications. This might be particularly relevant towards publicly funded bodies that are facing government cuts in 2017.
Looking towards the future, 2017 could be the year that heralds the first wave of commercialised artificial intelligence. Automation is currently attracting a lot of attention in the media, and not without reason. Firms will look to take advantage of new developments in the cloud-supported science. The number of upstart competitors for Amazon Web Services’ crown in the cloud market is also a vote of confidence. We can, in particular, expect a resurgent Google Cloud in the near future. And, as stated above, the cloud’s role in fuelling its supposed rival – IoT – will not dissipate.
As we observe 2017 in earnest, IT will progress quickly and innovatively. The platform that underpins innovation in IT is cloud computing; it has been so for a number of years now. That, despite what some critics have said of late, is unlikely to change any time soon.
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