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Cloud Computing Will Surpass the Internet in Importance

IDG News Service — Cloud computing will top the Internet in importance as development of the Web continues, according to a university professor who spoke Friday at the World Future Society conference in Boston.

While those who developed the Internet had a clear vision and the power to make choices about the road it would take — factors that helped shape the Web — Georgetown University professor Mike Nelson wondered during a panel discussion whether the current group of developers possesses the foresight to continue growing the Internet.

“In the mid-90s there was a clear conscience about what the Internet was going to be,” he said. “We don’t have as good a conscience as we did in the ’90s, so we may not get there.”

While a vision of the Internet’s future may appear murky, Nelson said that cloud computing will be pivotal. “The cloud is even more important than the Web,” he said.

Cloud computing will allow developing nations to access software once reserved for affluent countries. Small businesses will save money on capital expenditures by using services such as Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud to store and compute their data instead of purchasing servers.

Sensors will start to appear in items such as lights, handheld devices and agriculture tools, transmitting data across the Web and into the cloud. If survey results from the Pew Internet and American Life Project accurately reflect the U.S.’ attitude toward the Internet, Nelson’s cloud computing prediction could prove true.

In 2000, when the organization conducted its first survey and asked people if they used the cloud for computing, less than 10 percent of respondents replied yes. When asked the same question this May, that figure reached 66 percent, said Lee Rainie, the project’s director, who also spoke on the panel. Further emphasizing the role of cloud computing’s future, the survey also revealed an increased use of mobile devices connecting to data stored at offsite servers. However, cloud computing faces development and regulation challenges, Nelson cautioned. “There are lots of forces that could push us away from the cloud of clouds,” he said.

He advocated that companies develop cloud computing services that allow users to transfer data between systems and do not lock businesses into one provider. The possibility remains that cloud computing providers will use proprietary technology that forces users into their systems or that creates clouds that are only partially open.

“I think there is a chance that if we push hard … we can get to this universal cloud,” he said.

By Fred O’Connor CIO.com

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