Remember a time, around 1995, when leading tech providers such as IBM introduced an innovative new hard drive - one that had around a gigabyte of storage (enough to hold around 25 songs), and cost a mere £3,000?
Yes, it seems unbelievable now. But there was once a time when agility, ubiquity and infinite space were just elusive, futuristic concepts we could only dream of. We often take for granted our ability to switch between devices, recover lost files at the click of a button, and store data until our heart's content.
But if we think about the rapid development of the cloud, and how it’s impacted our life - even in the last 5 years - it’s exciting to think about the prospect of a cloud-led future.
Forrester predict that the global cloud computing market will grow from £22.5bn (in 2011) to around £110bn in 2020.
Rapid increases in processing power will make cloud projects even cheaper and with the rise of machine learning and the IoT, interconnectivity will become an innate part of our lives. As the cloud becomes accepted as the norm, the internet will weave its way into our everyday activities. Its fluidity will predictably eradicate everyday frustrations like traffic congestion, booking health appointments, and managing utility bills.
By 2020, it’s expected that there will be 20bn internet connected devices, and with only 7bn people in the world, the majority of those connected will be machine to machine.
The cloud will no doubt be the driver of huge social change in years to come. So what exactly does a cloud-led future look like?
The transportation industry is undergoing a transformation of its own. A new urban infrastructure controlled by the cloud will make the streets safer by regulating traffic, and driverless cars will communicate with each other through cloud optimised navigation. As a result, regulating devices such as traffic lights will become obsolete, and traffic congestion and collision will become rarities.
Vehicles will become desired for their quality of experience - perhaps even used as a media platform - rather than their aesthetics and performance capabilities. This will create a world we where are users of cars, rather than owners.
The volume of vehicles on the road will be significantly decreased, and transport will become more accessible for the elderly, the disabled, and the economically disadvantaged.
It’s even been said that the future of our health is in the cloud. With doctors able to track the health of their patients through wireless monitoring, conditions such as sleep apnea can be monitored remotely, and heart attacks and strokes can be detected before they've even happened.
We should also expect to see a rise in Telehealth, where diagnosis and prescriptions are issued through communucations technology, such as live video, remote patient monitoring and mobile health (mHealth). Private medical documents such as X-rays, pre-recorded video appointments and images will be stored in the cloud, where medical professionals have full access and persual.
It’s a revolution in medicine that will ease the prevention, diagnosis and treatment processes, improving the efficiency of the health industry, and in turn, our quality of life.
Ten years from now, it’s predicted that every business will be connected to the cloud.
Unlimited file storage, constant connectivity, and heightened security are a given, but the future expects to see innovations that will change the way we do business, work, and employ.
Location will no longer be a barrier to business dealings and collaboration with partners. And with a rise in cryptocurrency, the parameters between nations will become blurred. Fluid and secure transactions will take place no matter the country, culture or location.
Similarly, remote jobs could become the majority, giving candidates a whole new pool of opportunities, and employers a wider selection of talent to choose from. Could this lead to a significant enhancement in the quality of connected businesses output?
Virutal teacher and student collaboration on assignments will be made possible by the cloud, which could also mean the end of textbooks.
Virtual lockers are already available, accessed through the cloud, where students will have perusal of all learning materials, and this type of approach expects to see e-learning overtake face-to-face learning. Students will be given more automny and independence, logging in remotely to participate in lessons.
Virtual language labs could allow students to have conversations with a native speaker without even having the leave the country. The classroom will become an experience rather than a location, and innovations such as VR (virtual reality) allow students to perform experiments in virtual science labs, reducing the health and safety risks of working with open flames and dangerous chemicals.
Far from simply managing energy bills, the cloud will change our overall relationship with our homes. Becoming an intuitive space that reacts, alters, and self manages according to our preferences, our homes will no longer burden us with lists of endless chores.
Similarly, the cloud will revolutionise how we monitor and secure our homes, thanks to live monitors, cameras, and microphones. The cloud will revolutionise home security, as we will always be connected.
For some, the idea of constant connectivity is seemingly terrifying. An invasion of privacy, the possibility of hackers, and no 'OFF' button have many skeptical about the prospect. But we have to look at the bigger picture. If a connected world will see an end to some of our biggest daily gripes, reduce crime rates, and improve our health, environment, and education, then shouldn't we be welcoming a cloud-led future with open arms?
Think about a time when the internet was dismissed for being 'too complicated'. Yet today, it's rare that you come across a household without an internet-connected device of some sort. We are far from being dependent on the cloud, but there are opportunities to use cloud-related technology to improve and enhance our overall quality of life.
Written by Chris Coupe
Chris is a director at RunTech. Having spent six years in business development and management, he plays an invaluable role in seeking out new opportunities and driving the company forward.