Tuesday, February 22, 2011 Posted by NOVATIUM SOLUTIONS (P) LTD.

"Cloud computing will soon be the biggest game changing development in technology since Internet," Alok Singh

To understand what cloud based computing can do for mankind we need to unwind time and retrace the path followed by electricity from discovery to the current day power grids. We can trace three major phases in which electricity was made available to all in a true utility model.

It all starts off with the discovery of electricity and usage by a few as novelty.This phase was marked with limited equipment which could use this power source. If we now jump into the world of computing, it followed a similar path of getting into research set-ups to start with very different interfaces which itself was restrictive and needed high skill to operate. Phase two was marked by a few industries who needed power to run machines; they felt the need to generate and consume power. But the source of generation depended on a water stream or coal. Thus these industries were situated close to these sources. The producer was the consumer as well, resulting in inefficient leveraging of the generation and consumption process. Computing has followed a parallel path, from research centres computing found it way into enterprises as a productivity enhancing tool.

These organisations however generated their own power of computing needed by the each individual. In some cases it was done collectively and this resulted in significant improvement but it was still not the most optimal utilisation.

Then came the golden age of grid power. It offered complete freedom to the user with no hassle of generating electricity. The user could use from one point any amount of electricity; from 100W to 100MW. The era of electricity on demand had begun and with it came the pay-as-you-use concept. Huge power stations driven by coal to hydro to nuclear energy generating millions of Mega Watts were set up. These fed electricity through power distribution over grids.Now, in that parallel universe called computing, the physical power grid was replaced with wired and wireless cloud of computing.

Cloud computing brings into mind websites like YouTube and Facebook. But the potential of the cloud is not limited to the running of such sites. Rather we should look at them as starting points. Starting points that elucidates the ability of cloud to serve the big and small consumers with utility based models where applications are run centrally and the user can use them as and when required with standard and lean infrastructure at the their end. This concept is going to redraw the landscape of computing. Here are some scenarios we should consider to understand the cloud and how it will impact our lives.


This change has already started with the advent of net-tops, iPads and smart phones. These "small" devices might not have the same computing power as desktops but today they are used by a number of people and for long durations in everyday life. Soon, we will see household equipment connecting to cloud. So round the bend we have waiting televisions feeding online content from the cloud, set-top boxes' streaming on- demand movies and games, refrigerators sending data to cloud applications for grocery refill, cars updating you and the manufacturer about its status and the upcoming service opportunities ... all major household gadgets and equipment will be connected over the cloud. When this happens, it will be the most economical and effective way of serving consumers.

Personalisation will expand into the realms of tourism, education and disease management. These will evolve around the multiple applications available across multiple platforms. Some of these are already evolved but some like disease management are in early stages.

Cloudbased hosted applications connected to your appliances will flag you and the vendor about issues brewing inside the device and fixes can be anticipated. Today before you are aware of an issue on your smart phone, hosted applications inform you about a patch available for you to install. Expect more of these to happen to all your equipment at home. Take an example of your car facing a problem and an application on the cloud gives a video feed on your tablet PC as how to fix it. There are many applications on the cloud which inform you on the best route to take to your office based on real time traffic data.

There will be a computer in every device that you come across but the computer as we know it today will be nowhere. The computers of the future will be called tablets, smart phones, access devices and televisions among other names. So while the computer disappears from your life it will impregnate into everything around you. In the future, every device will have a simplified interface to take your inputs (and maybe thoughts), process them many miles away in the cloud and provide you with something that probably goes beyond your expectations. The early form of this is seen in the simple map application on your smart phone. It takes your request to find the current location, determines locations from a remote application and displays the location as a point on a map. Form factors and user experiences will define future computing access devices. The difference between a tablet and a smart phone will be the display size not the process power or the operating system. So don't be surprised to see a tablet PC in 52" TV with touch interface.

With the cloud being able to host small and specialised stores online, we are already seeing the next big push for trade over the cloud. Stores are already proliferating. People can now "walk" around these stores through their smart phones and televisons and start buying. Thus competiveness and availability on these stores improve. In the near future consumers will reverse auction their needs and online stores will compete to fulfill these needs.

A combination of light weight applications as you see in today’s smart phones will get you relevant information. GPS application on smart phones give you relevant information starting from where you are rather than depend of user's ability to navigate through applications like can see similar trends in weather forecasts, travel and Forex applications.

Right information at the right time means overall improvement in our ability to make right decisions. Although this is a difficult aspect to measure, it should reflect in collective improvement in efficiency across business and society.

The browser as we know it today will disappear like the PC. But the concept will proliferate as most client application will work on the same principle as the browsers of today. Need specific applications, which are light weight and portable to multiple clients, will find its way on to our gadgets to replace the browser. These applications can be customised.

A combination of public and private cloud will help new business models take shape. For example, in health care, the cloud allows doctors to remotely monitor the patient and collect information, the doctor could then collaborate with experts over the cloud and prescribe the required medication. This could trigger a sale opportunity for a pharmaceutical company to ship the consignment to the patient's home. Similar models can be seen in many areas from textile to consumer durables. Cloud will bring monumental changes in the forward supply chain and consumption fulfilment logistics which will gravitate to new business models.

Cloud offerings are rich platforms to collaborate (like Facebook for social networking). In the near future, we would see Education providers and seekers finding common platforms on the cloud to collaborate and share information seamlessly.

New business models will emerge on the simplicity of participation by masses. People across the globe on smart phones, networked televisions or simple network powered access devices will participate in this new era by leveraging the technology offered by the cloud. Governments and organisation will take advantage of this cloud power to drive governance and welfare,while the common man will have everything he/she needs a step away.

We are living in interesting times. Smart phones are primarily used for applications than voice calls. iPads and tablets are redefining the access devices paradigm. Novatium has started selling managed computing devices which provide local and cloud applications to users. The big players, including Microsoft, Intel and HP, are moving their resources and focus to cloud computing. Cloud will soon be the biggest game changing development in technology since Internet. The good news is that it's already on an acceleration mode and making small but significant inroads into our lives.

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