Though it’s always tough to speculate on the particular path that technology will follow, humanity has a pretty good track record for getting the gist of it well in advance. There will always be some seemingly ridiculous misses that manifest in some form; radios that will print your newspaper, jetpacks for personal travel (though admit it, we all want one) and even robotic farmers. On the other end of it, sometimes we luck out and get a great visionary like Arthur C. Clarke whose detailed account of space travel has long been seen as an excellent predictor in how we would eventually break the 65 mile barrier.
With the current speed of technological advancement, we are starting to see those predictions either come to fruition or disappear into the ether as new ideas arise to replace them; all within a 5-10 year period. The rate of change and high volume of feedback has made forecasting trends in IT into a much more reliable process.
So what does this mean for cloud computing in the coming years?
Some businesses will fail. Some people will lose their jobs. While this seems to be an entirely negative result of progress, it serves as a “thinning of the herd” to some degree. Businesses that spend too long debating the pros and cons of adopting some level of cloud technologies will find themselves caught in a race to catch up to their competitors. Those that outright refuse to take part in the migration will experience the sinking feeling of suddenly being unable to do business with the modern market. The same is true for Managed IT Services providers; those unable or unwilling to keep up with offering cloud solutions of some kind will find themselves relegated to changing hard drives and cleaning viruses off machines.
Expect to see some government intervention as well. Partly for the very reasons outlined above. There is a fear that this new way of doing business will cause irreparable damage to industries that are slow to get on board. This will likely come in the form of regulation and compliance guidelines designed to put the brakes on things a bit. This isn’t some sort of conspiracy; simply governments acting in what they see to be the best interest of industry and offering a bit of protection to vulnerable markets.
Many businesses will flourish. As organizations come to the realization that these emerging technologies have a vast variety of benefits for them, more and more will reap the benefits. Accessibility, efficiency, standardization and compliance will increase and become easier goals to achieve. While costs, complexity, overhead, power requirements and geographical restrictions will all come down. It boils down to a simple: if I can make my business run better and have it cost less, why wouldn’t I?
The workplace will further become an intangible concept. The advent of many new mobile technologies allow far greater freedom when it comes to where you sit when you get your work done. Transit riders can work on a proposal, collaborate in an IM discussion and check market prices en route to the office. More and more people are telecommuting, working from home offices and functioning on the road. Even integration between satellite offices has become almost entirely seamless with centralized data hosting, hosted applications and services like hosted Microsoft Exchange.