When the cloud first established itself, it was about providing resources in a more efficient fashion. Today as we enter the age of the Internet of Things with sensors giving off ever-bigger piles of data, the cloud will play an important role in processing and storing it.
Although predictions for the Internet of Things are all over the map, Cisco believes that 50 billion connected devices will be in place by 2020, while Morgan Stanley is predicting 75 billion. Gartner says there are already 4.9 billion in place this year. Accenture believes we are talking about an astonishing market potential of $14 trillion. Cisco has cited the same number.
You can take those numbers as you will, but the fact is that sensors are getting smaller and cheaper and they are going to be appearing in a growing number of unlikely places. I spoke to an Accenture analyst last week who says farmers will be attaching sensors to plants and placing them in the soil to better understand the chemical and water requirements of individual crops. It's likely they will be helping provide data about our houses, cars, office buildings, warehouses, and factories.
We already know that big companies like GE are placing sensors in industrial devices like jet engines, wind turbines, locomotives, and MRI machines. These sensors are constantly collecting data and providing information so that people who manage the machine can optimize their usage based on a variety of factors that would not have previously been possible without these small cheap sensors feeding them data.
Data, Data Everywhere
And as these sensors become ubiquitous, they are going to be pushing tons and tons of data and that will require massive compute power to process and storage to collect it all. That sounds like a perfect match for the cloud, which can provide essentially as many resources as required for a task. You can store essential data in more expensive storage, and save money by moving older or less important data to cheaper long-term storage.
I spoke to Carlyle Group after it bought Veritas, the information management division of Symantec, for $8 billion earlier this week. While the firm saw lots of reasons to buy Veritas, one was this trend of big data, driven at least in part to the Internet of Things, and the implications of that for any storage-related industry over the next five years.
All of this suggests that as the Internet of Things grows and develops, even if it never achieves the lofty numbers predicted by the sources cited above, it will be having a huge impact, offering a level of data, the likes of which will pale in comparison to anything we've seen in the past.
Like mobile and social before it, the data processing ability will be better, cheaper, and faster because of cloud resources and will help drive the development of this technology. And as the Internet of Things pushes further into the mainstream, and feeds all of this data, it should form a natural alliance with cloud vendors.
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