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Cloud Computing: What Will the Cloud Look Like a Decade From Now?

By Dick Weisinger

The Pew Research Center recently surveyed a group of ‘technology experts’ about what the vision of how people will interact with the internet a decade from now.  Not too surprisingly, when given the choice between these two possible future scenarios more than 70 percent thought the first of the scenarios as the more likely:

1)  “By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones…”
2) “By 2020, most people will still do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Internet-based applications like Google Docs and applications run from smartphones will have some functionality, but the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system…”

The respondents to the survey were given an opportunity to comment on the question.  Some of the comments included these:

“We don’t have to wait until 2020 for this shift. It’s already happened… For consumers, the cloud revolution has already happened.” — Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch.

“It’s 2010 and I could already basically use only cloud-based applications on my computer. Local storage is already increasingly irrelevant” — Davis Fields, product Manager, Nokia.

“This is a no-brainer. Today most people already live in the cloud for their mail, agenda, pictures, videos.” — Louis Naugès, president Revevol.

“The iPhone changed everything. It accelerated the shift to cloud computing and made development of iPhone apps the next big opportunity for aspiring application developers.” — Ken Jarboe, president, Athena Alliance.

“This further begs the question, ‘What is a general-purpose PC?’ By 2020, the norm will be pocket, powerful computer devices that are networks and utilizing data and applications from the cloud.” — Robert Cannon,  senior counsel for Internet law at the US Federal Communications Commission

“Trust not the cloud for reliability, security, privacy.” –Barry Wellman, professor of sociology and Netlab director, University of Toronto.

“We’ll have a huge blow up with terrorism in the cloud and the PC will regain its full glory. People will lose confidence as cyber attacks cripple major systems. In fact, cloud will be there but we’ll be stuck in hybrid mode for the next 40 years as people live with some level of fear.” –R. Ray Wang, partner in The Altimeter Group, blogger on enterprise strategy;

“Expect a major news event involving a cloud catastrophe (security breach or lost data) to drive a reversion of these critical resources back to dedicated computing.” –Nathaniel James, Mozilla Foundation, formerly executive director

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