The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week featured plenty of cloud-related announcements from a wide variety of companies. Indeed, most new devices, from refrigerators to cars, have a massive cloud-based back end. The cloud components of these technologies are becoming more systemic. Indeed, the cloud is assumed.
More and more, people expect everything to be connected. No matter if it’s a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, or a car, they all communicate or will communicate with cloud servers. Why? Companies that make these devices understood early on that it does not make sense to keep all the smarts and storage in the device itself, and these devices must be instantly upgradable for them to have long-term value. Think about your TV service or smartphone updates. That's how cars and thermostats -- and eventually everything else that’s electronic in your home -- are beginning to work.
However, there are downsides to all this connectivity -- security, for one. Although I don’t mind my TV getting hacked, I am concerned about the connected car I’ll be driving. Worse, I’m not seeing a focus on security by manufacturers. It’s going to take a few close calls for the industry to wake up and understand that anything connected must come with well-defined and well-implemented security.
We’ll see a lot of growth in cloud-based services for devices in the next few years, much of it from Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, plus some from purpose-built clouds that device developers may share or use exclusively. We’ll see growth in compute and storage services to support these devices, and we'll see upgrades in communications networks, including higher-speed cellular systems that will rival the pace of home networks.
Keep in mind that this is not some future development. It’s happening right now. Look at the number of devices that are connected to your Wi-Fi hub at home as evidence that we’re undergoing a major change in how we use technology. This change cannot happen without the use of cloud services. And the explosion in cloud-enabled devices is one more reason cloud-based systems usage will explode in the next several years.