The Public Image
This is the magical place that we hear about in product advertisements. “The Cloud” is the unlimited ability to access work files from anywhere in the world. And the security of never losing important family photos through an unfortunate water incident. When life is so amazing that the first section of storage space fills up-just buy more!
Where It Came From
There’s some debate over who gets the credit for the creation of all this greatness. As a concept, it had been tossed around within technological circles as early as the 1960’s. But there’s also some glory for whoever successfully used the term first and as you can imagine, there’s some debate about that too. Many point to an industry convention in 2006, where then Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, talked about “cloud computing”, describing it as, “a big opportunity.” And within the next year, all the major industry competitors had begun to similarly describe their efforts to seize it.
What It Does
Up until this point, most people used software copied directly to their desktop computers. Digital photos were manually downloaded from a camera to a computer hard drive using a cord. Now, both the software and the photos can be stored on a server provided by the company of your choice. These servers are physically located all over the world. And you don’t even need a cord. It’s a rental storage space for all things digital. The only requirement is access to the internet.
The Cloud has allowed smaller devices to use their processing power for greater functions instead of slowly bogging down under the growing storage. It also provides mobility for people to choose how they access their data. It can be viewed, updated, synced, transferred and copied with great ease. From just about anywhere. The public embrace of this “big opportunity” has also been nothing short of magical.
Why We Need It
The Cloud makes banking faster. It makes online shopping easier; so much easier that it’s now a lot harder to stay within a budget. Digital medical records are now all in one spot to be accessed by your whole medical team. And delicious food can be ordered, paid for, and delivered with minimal human interaction.
We also love “smart” gadgets that use the internet to interact. Sleepily tell your espresso machine to make coffee without getting out of bed. Avoid a meltdown with your kids during a road trip by having a WiFi hotspot in the car. Or let Alexa be your hotel butler from any number of locations across the country. The Cloud support of these smart gadgets is estimated to grow to 7.15 billion dollars by 2021.
All of these different products and services require a lot of data interaction. But the biggest usage, as it turns out, is from video. Humans (and probably some of their pets) really love videos: video blogs, product reviews, TV shows, movies and music. It’s projected that by 2021, 82% of all internet traffic will be from videos. Even if you binge-watched videos like it was your job, it would take 5 million years to watch what will go across the internet in a month.
Looking to the Future
One of the most significant downsides to The Cloud is it’s dependency on the internet. Even though most internet service providers will advertise that they have 100% uptime: the math is complicated, a little deceptive, and really easy to tone out. When the internet inevitably goes down, this results in frustration over the unexpected change of plans. Businesses are always working to create greater redundancies to avoid this issue. Many streaming services now even offer download options as an easy workaround. And while that may sound like we’ve come full circle again, the progress made since 2006 has been staggering. As the desire to perfect this service creates growth and innovation, the next big opportunity could be right around the corner.