Thank the cloud for making big data and IoT possible

The ability to analyze massive amounts of data and to connect devices as the Internet of things became a reality when the cloud coalesced

I’ve sworn it off: No longer do I remind people younger than myself that many of today’s concepts we call new and innovative are based on much older concepts popular a long time ago -- when I was young. The ones that immediately come to mind are big data and Internet of things (IoT).

Big data -- at least the notion of it -- was always the objective in the world of database technology. However, back in the days when I was a college professor who taught database technology, it was simply a cool concept. The hardware and software that could provide analytics across petabytes of data simply did not exist.

Although we dreamed of having the horsepower to see most of the enterprise's data and analyze that data with subsecond response times, we knew it was out of the question. That sort of data manipulation could sometimes take weeks.

Most big data systems don’t live in public clouds, but the arrival of public clouds, search engines, and social networks provided the innovation to drive the interest in big data (Hadoop and other innovations). Then, it was the public cloud providers such as Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft that offered affordable platforms for big data systems.

IoT is a different beast, in that the need and the ability to connect to devices and have them provide key data that can be analyzed on the fly has been done since the 1960s with NASA. However, the price of doing so has dropped to a point that everything from our thermostats to our refrigerators are now Internet-connected.

As a result, we automate these devices using smart grids, learning systems, and data collection and analysis systems, and we use public clouds to make the application of IoT technology affordable.

A common theme is the cost efficiency of big data and IoT systems. Although many a white paper and doctoral dissertations in the past certainly described items we’re calling new and innovative now, the cloud made them affordable and thus possible.

The next time you get a health status report from your car, analyze your workouts, and even receive a power bill, thank cloud computing for providing the missing pieces that make these systems possible.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.