The past 25 years have brought a digital age of Internet, massive computing power, high-speed data transmission, mobile communication, and more recently, the cloud, which brings it all together. Over the next 25 years, as technology advances and infrastructure increases, cloud computing will continue to change our world.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, about 70% of Americans will be using cloud-based applications as their primary tools by 2020—both at work and in their free time. It’s already happening, of course—people accessing cloud-based applications like email and social media from their smart phones, streaming movies from Netflix, and hosting their family pictures online—but just imagine what is on the horizon.
1. The Internet is everywhere. Really.
The true potential of the cloud will only be realized with universal, high-speed, broadband Internet. We are getting there. Airlines are adding satellite based wi-fi to flights. Downtown areas across the country are wired with hotspots. But speed is the real roadblock.
Median access speeds in a few countries are as high as 50 Mbps (2-5 Mbps in the U.S.), but the cloud possibilities for healthcare, education, entertainment, and entrepreneurship will bring a demand for improved infrastructure. Over the next quarter century, deregulation and technology advances could bring 100+ Mbps service to almost everywhere that can receive a radio signal.
2. No more software updates.
Tired of chasing the latest version of Microsoft Word or Adobe Reader? Then maybe you’d welcome all software living on the Internet, on cloud-based servers. Whether you’re checking your email at work or adding to a spreadsheet in a taxi, the Google Docs trend will continue—software as a service (SaaS) will provide business applications and a repository of documents sitting far from our laptops. The IDC recently predicted that SaaS revenue will grow 5 times faster than traditional software such that soon, a third of all software will be delivered over the web. Imagine what things will be like in 25.
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