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By 7 May 2015 | Categories: news

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Attend any IT conference, round table, or discussion on cloud and there is a very good chance that Amazon Web Services will come up, if not several times then most certainly at least once or twice.

The reason for this is the e-commerce giant has made a steady push into the cloud market, and captured many businesses and enterprise’s attention with its clout.

Thus, when the company offers up its thoughts and predictions on the megatrend of cloud, it’s a good idea to take notice. Dr Werner Vogels, VP and CTO of Amazon.com, explained that in the past 18 months, cloud computing has enabled great innovations both in consumer and enterprise products as it has  become the new normal for organisations of all sizes.

Cloudy with a chance of change

“Cloud is now the engine room for inventions by young businesses as well as transforming established companies into lean, fast moving innovators. It is safe to say cloud computing is already having a broad impact,” he continued.

Vogels noted that despite all of the amazing innovation we have already seen, we are still on Day One of the technology, with much more to come.

“In the second half of 2015 and beyond cloud will power exciting innovations that will touch every area of our lives,” he enthused. He highlighted eight trends that he expects to become more prevalent in the rest of this year and beyond it.

1. Cloud analytics are everywhere.

Vogels explained that there is almost no consumer or business area that is not impacted by Cloud enabled analytics. While this is often hidden from the consumer’s eye as it empowers applications rather than being the end game, analytics, he pointed out, is becoming more prevalent. From retail recommendations to genomics based product development, from financial risk management to start-ups measuring the effect of their new products, from digital marketing to fast processing of clinical trial data, all are taken to the next level by Cloud based analytics.

2. Cloud enables self-service analytics.

In the past analytics within an organisation was the pinnacle of old style IT: a centralised data warehouse running on specialised hardware. However, in the modern enterprise this scenario is not acceptable. Vogels elaborated that analytics plays a crucial role in helping business units become more agile and move faster to respond to the needs of the business and build products customers really want. Unfortunately though, businesses tend to still be bogged down by this centralised, oversubscribed, old style data warehouse model – an impedance that Cloud based analytics completely changes.

In practical terms, this means that a business unit can now go out and create their own data warehouse in the Cloud of a size and speed that exactly matches what they need and are willing to pay for. It can be a small, two node, data warehouse that runs during the day, a big 1000 node data warehouse that just runs for a few hours on a Thursday afternoon, or one that runs during the night to give personnel the data they need when they come into work in the morning.

3. Cloud will enable everything to become smart

These days everything has the ability to become “smart” - a smartwatch, smart clothes, a smart TV, a smart home, a smart car.  However, in almost all cases this “smartness” runs in software in the cloud not the object or the device itself.

In case general users think that Cloud analytics is only relevant to enterprises or businesses, they would be wholly incorrect. Vogels pointed out that whether it is the thermostat in your home, the activity tracker on your wrist, or the smart movie recommendations on your beautiful ultra HD TV, all are powered by analytics engines running in the Cloud.

4. Cloud Analytics improves City Life

Vogels noted that Cloud analytics is not limited to the home or smart devices – it can also take information from the city environment to improve the living conditions for citizens around the world. A good example is the work the City of Chicago is doing.

Chicago is one of the first to bring sensors throughout the city that will permanently measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation, wind and traffic. The data from these sensor stream into the Cloud where it is analysed to find ways to improve the life of its citizens. The collected datasets from Chicago’s “Array of Things” will be made publicly available on the cloud for researchers to find innovative ways to analyse the data.

5. Cloud enables the Industrial Internet of Things

Vogels noted that often when we think about the Internet of Things (IoT), the tendency is to focus on what this will mean for the consumer. However, he believes that in 2015 we will see the rise of a different IoT - the Industrial Internet of Things. Industrial machinery will be instrumented and Internet connected to stream data into the cloud to gain usage insights, improve efficiencies and prevent outages.

Whether this is General Electric instrumenting their gas turbines, Shell dropping sensors in their oil wells or Kärcher with fleets of industrial cleaning machines all of these will send continuous data streams for real time analysis into the cloud.

6. Cloud enables video analytics

Along with industry, Cloud analytics will likely leave its mark on video. While, Vogels explained, for a long time video was recorded to be archived, played back and watched, with the unlimited processing power of the Cloud there is a new trend arising: treating video as a data stream to be analysed. This is being called Video Content Analysis (VCA) and it has many application areas from retail to transportation.

He elaborated that a common area of application is in locations where video cameras are present, such as malls and large retail stores. Video is analysed to help stores understand traffic patterns, and analytics can then provide the numbers of customers moving as well as dwell times, and other statistics. This allows retailers to improve their store layouts and in-store marketing effectiveness.

Another popular area is that of real time crowd analysis at large events, such as concerts, to understand movement throughout the venue and remove bottlenecks before they occur in order to improve visitor experience.

7. Cloud transforms healthcare analytics

Another sector we can expect to be touched by Cloud is the healthcare arena. Vogels pointed out that data analytics is quickly becoming central to analysing health risk factors and improving patient care. Despite healthcare being an area that is under pressure to reduce cost and speed up patient care, Cloud is playing a crucial role and helping healthcare go digital.

He continued that cloud powers innovative solutions such as Phillips Healthsuite, a platform that manages healthcare data and provides support for doctors as well as patients. The Philips HealthSuite digital platform analyses and stores 15 PB (petabyte) of patient data gathered from 390 million imaging studies, medical records, and patient inputs to provide healthcare providers with actionable data, which they can use to directly impact patient care. “This is reinventing healthcare for billions of people around the world. As we move through 2015 and beyond we can expect to see cloud play even more of a role in the advancement of the field of patient diagnosis and care,” he said.

8. Cloud enables secure analytics

Last but not least, is another topic that crops up time and again – security. Vogels concluded that, with analytics enabling so many new areas, from online shopping to healthcare to home automation, it becomes paramount that the analytics data is kept secure and private.  The deep integration of encryption into the storage and in the analytics engines, with users being able to bring their own encryption keys, ensures that only the users of these services have access to the data and no one else.

Based on what we have seen and heard from multiple companies to date, we have a prediction of our own – this is certainly not the last time we have heard about the phenomena and potentially phenomenal, wide-reaching impact of Cloud and analytics.

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