Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, December 3, 2022

Amazon CTO Vogels Outlines Cloud Trends for 2014 

With 2013 racing to an end, it’s the time of year when industry visionaries start to reflect on the road that was, and what may come. Among the reflections that have started to filter into the news stream are those of Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels, who dished this week on trends worth tracking in 2014.

As one might expect from a post of this nature, Vogels did plenty of back-patting, listing some of the notable success stories that Amazon has running on their service, including companies that have quickly launched themselves into household names, such as Dropbox, Instagram, Spotify, and Pinterest. Aggrandizement aside, when one stops to consider how pervasive these names are, all of which have virtually sprung up overnight, it’s hard not to be impressed with the power of the cloud. “Despite all of the amazing innovation we have already seen over the last seven years,” riffed Vogels, “we are still at day one.”

Picking out four trends that Vogels expects to be on the rise for 2014, Vogels started by pointing out the content enablement that is happening thanks to cloud computing, saying that cloud will enable content to follow individuals wherever they go. While he noted that this trend started by changing how people interacted with their mobile devices, he commented that the approach is starting to filter into non-mobile devices such as Samsung smart TVs, and non-traditional places such as automobiles.

Indeed, this week during the Connected Car Expo at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, cloud enablers such as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi were table stakes as automakers rolled out their new connected offerings. Announcing its new A3 sedan due next spring, Audi says they will become the first automaker to offer in-vehicle 4G LTE service. Hot on their heels, GM says it is working with AT&T to add Wi-Fi to several of its vehicles, raising the question for enterprises everywhere, “What does it mean for my business when I can reach my customer in their car?”

The implications for these development tags into one of Vogels’ other trend markers for 2014, when he notes that the cloud will allow everyone to become a media company. This, of course, was the unstated implication from the moment a company launched its first web presence, but the pervasiveness of the cloud takes it from theory to workable reality.

Vogels notes the example of sports clubs looking to expand their engagement with fans beyond the two hours on a weekend. “Cloud-based services for pre- and post-production, as well as distribution, are readily available such that anyone can become an Internet broadcaster operating worldwide without any capital investment,” he writes. While that is not exactly true – content doesn’t generate itself (yet) – the point is well taken and enterprises should ask themselves how they can build value by taking advantage of this new reality -- and what data they can start generating in the process.

Another trend point for 2014 that Vogels mentions is that cloud-based analytics enhances the offline world. In this, Vogels is speaking to the big data technology trend that is supplanting “the cloud” as the new technological buzz phrase du jour. From the mobile devices that have become pervasive, to the sensors in the industrial sector, and eventually to the clothes that we wear, data is becoming the digital oil that is set to fuel the rise of entirely new classes of goods and services.

Intel made this clear from its perspective when it formally launched its own IoT Solutions group this month with the mission to “accelerate and broaden [Intel’s] reach into market segments and applications commonly referred to as the Internet of Things.” In September, the silicon giant launched Quark, its low-power system on a chip processor family designed for applications where lower power and size take priority over higher performance.

Adding spice to this slurry was the announcement made this week by Alta Devices, who were awarded the “Best Technical Development of Energy Harvesting” at the 2013 IDTechEx Energy Harvesting and Storage Exhibition for their gallium arsenide-based mobile power technology that it claims produces more power from indoor light than what most commercially available solar technologies are able to produce from the sun. Powerful connected data collectors aren't too far from reality.

While it’s unlikely that too many of these devices will be hitting the market in 2014, Vogels’ point about the cloud powering the collection of data is well founded as more people get plugged in to more data generating apps, and connected sensors start finding more proliferation into industrial environments.

Finally, Vogels makes the point that in 2014, he expects to see cloud moving data processing to real-time. With all this data comes the need to process it. Like oil, having crude is not enough – creating value must be the end goal, and with data, the more granular an enterprise gets, the more real-time they need to be in order to capitalize on it.

“There has always been a close relationship between big data and cloud computing,” says Vogels, “as it requires no limits in terms of compute and storage but by adding real-time processing capabilities, we will see a rise in data analytics that are able to produce results in real-time, radically changing the products companies can build.”

We are just starting to see the tip of the real-time iceberg as it rises into extreme-scale existence. SAP HANA, which Amazon offers through its AWS marketplace, has captured a lot of attention in the last year, but this space is set to heat up in 2014 with some heavy-hitting competitors coming to the table including Oracle with its Database 12c, IBM taking its BLU in-memory database into the cloud, and Microsoft’s SQL Server “Project Hekaton” looming.

So while the last bit of ink in the 2013 inkwell gets put to use closing out the calendar, one thing is certain: for cloud watchers, 2014 looks to be another blockbuster year.

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