Cloud computing is literally changing the world. Right now. It is changing how you work, how you socialize, how you buy stuff, how you sell stuff, your privacy, your daily habits and a lot more.
Everyone agrees that the changes the cloud brings will be massive and that we are only at the very beginning.
But it’s hard to see exactly what kinds of new things are coming.
So we asked a bunch of top cloud experts to share their thoughts on the future of the cloud:
- Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com
- Alan McIntosh, Groupon CIO
- Todd McKinnon, CEO, co-founder, Okta (former SVP engineering Salesforce.com)
- Warren Adelman, Go Daddy, CEO
- Krish Ramakrishnan, co-founder and CEO of hot startup Blue Jeans Network
- Dwight Merriman, co-founder and CEO of hot startup, 10gen (former founder of DoubleClick).
- Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of Microsoft Windows Azure marketing.
They see the cloud changing medicine, real estate, small business, enterprise IT and a whole lot more.
Amazon pretty much invented cloud computing with its Amazon Web Services (AWS). Werner Vogels is a chief architect of its cloud and one of most innovative people in the tech industry.
'If you see how AWS is radically changing the way IT resources are being consumed, you'll discover that cloud computing has a very broad impact far beyond the IT department itself: the business units, the CFO office, the procurement department, the legal and compliance teams, etc., are all impacted,' he says.
Everything gets faster, cheaper, more flexible by using the cloud.
Now ANYONE with a good tech idea can quickly and cheaply make their idea happen, Werner Vogels points out.
He gives Cycle Computing as an example.
'Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing started his utility supercomputing company with only $8,000 from personal savings. By tapping into the supercomputing power of AWS, he's now doing high performance computing work for the world's largest pharmaceutical, insurance, bank and genome sequencing companies.'
In just one project, Cycle Computing helped researchers find potential new drugs to treat cancer.
Groupon grew up really fast on the cloud. It famously started on Amazon's cloud, but is now building its own.
The cloud changes how employees work with each other, says Groupon CIO Alan McIntosh.
'It allows people to be a lot more connected,' he says. 'Most of these systems have hooks into other platforms,' he says, referring to social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. That gives companies and employees access to all kinds of information they didn't have before.
For instance, he says companies can tap LinkedIn to 'automatically build a skill set in an employee directory.' This lets employees easily find experts in any area within their own company.
Don't miss: Here's How Groupon Set Up A New Age Company
Todd McKinnon cut is teeth as one of the top engineering dudes at Salesforce.com before leaving in 2009 to start his own cloud startup, Okta.
(Okta is a central way for an enterprise to manage lots of employee cloud log-ins and accounts.)
The real impact of the cloud is how it turns every mobile device into a PC.
'The number of people in the world that are going to turn into these sophisticated tech users is going to explode,' he says. We will soon have 'billions of people trained on smartphones and they are going to work,' he says and this will be a 'profound driver' of innovation.
For example, one of Okta's customers is an oil and gas company. 'All of a sudden it had 10,000 people working on oil rigs that now had 'computers.' They can see and use apps and that's new.'
This means an end to white collar office workers versus blue collar field workers. Everyone will be a so-called knowledge worker and everyone's job will use computers.
Go Daddy is a mega huge web hosting company, with 10 million customers. In other words, it is the cloud for many companies, particularly small and medium sized business.
CEO Warren Adelman sees the cloud helping these companies 'be more efficient,' he says -- and not just IT professional but any business owner. And not just from a desk somewhere, but on the go, from a smartphone.
That's because the cloud makes IT so easy, they'll run it from their mobile devices.
'The cloud IT environment means doing things in our every day lives. A small business owner can monitor the health of websites through a mobile interface -- even things like requesting server reboots can be done through a mobile app and done by the small business owners,' Adelman says.
This means that the average not-IT small business person will be able to more easily add cloud services to their own Websites for their customers. Every business will use the cloud and offers cloud services.
Blue Jeans Network is a hot cloud videoconferencing startup with customers like Facebook, Groupon, Foursquare and Match.com
CEO and co-founder Krish Ramakrishnan sold his two first startups to Cisco. But this startup was different. Not only does he sell cloud services, he is building his company using all cloud apps -- much like Groupon.
The office has completely changed. 'At a philosophical level, what we've done is taken the physical office and moved it into the cloud,' he says. It is now a place to socialize with co-workers, where work happens over a game of pool, Foosball or ping pong.
He's also using far less office space to house employees (about 70 in Mountain View, another 30 in India). They get desks in a communal room and they meet in videoconference-equipped meeting rooms.
This could alter the commercial real estate scene, freeing up space, even in crowded cities.
'In the future, companies will probably have lots of workspace and the workspace is not assigned to any individual. No one needs to store sensitive stuff. Everything is in the cloud.'
For Dwight Merriman the cloud isn't just something out there on the Internet. It's also something companies can build inside their data centres.
Merriman is the co-founder and CEO of a super hot startup, 10gen (which just landed a $42 million round on a half billion valuation). He also co-wrote a noSQL database called MongoDB. noSQL is often called the 'cloud database' because it works particularly well for massive cloud apps (like Foursquare.)
'Cloud computing is a big deal is a huge disruptor of IT and the software business,' he says. For instance, companies are starting to build their own clouds to use just for themselves, imitating how the big Internet companies use technology. 'People tend to forget that its not all about the public cloud. The private cloud is a big deal. All the Fortune 1000 will have a private cloud soon.'
That means that no matter how popular today's crop of IT giants are, the future is all up for grabs. 'This is a huge disruptor for enterprise software companies. Some of them will make the transition and some of them won't.'
Disclosure: Merriman is also a cofounder, investor, and board member of Business Insider.
Cloud computing offers nearly instant gratification, says Microsoft's Bob Kelly.
'Today you can have an idea, be funded tomorrow, and be in business the next day at scale. That's a phenomenon that didn't exist before,' he says.
It's leading to whole new ways for companies to make money as they can turn around and easily sell their own home made software as a service.
For example, VRX Studios is a photography company that wrote its own digital media management system. 'The system helped them handle a range of tasks including image archiving, virtual tours, maps, etc.,' Kelly says. They put in on Microsoft's software-hosting cloud, Azure, in 2010 and started selling it to their customers to help them their digital files.
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