The annual Cloud Expo Europe (CEE) has been and gone, and as a marker of the industry’s pulse it threw out some interesting insights. CEE is a growing event and each year it features an increasing number of industry heavyweights keen to hold forth on their cloud experiences and how they see the cloud moving forward.
This year was no exception, and if there were any differences from last year’s event, it was that more cloud users were on hand to offer their experience and more vendors were on hand to display their understanding.
One of the most interesting speeches was delivered by David King, CTO of Logica, the outsourcing company. He compared the cloud of today with the railroads of the last century, in which the movement of goods across continents became vastly easier and in turn helped transform business.
He elaborated by explaining that the ‘sharing’ elements of cloud usage are where new business models are being developed, due to business services and public sector services finding new ways to share information and extract greater value from that information. In short, King claimed that the cloud is bringing together communities that previously operated in relatively narrow spheres of interest but are now working together in positive and cooperative ways.
From the technology perspective clouds have matured to such an extent that organisations, whether they are operating in a public or private cloud, can be brought together to share information over the cloud.
To illustrate his point King cited the example of Burgemet, a cloud-based service in the Netherlands that helps local people to solve crimes. Those who subscribe to the service receive a request via their mobile phone to be on the look-out after a crime is committed. They receive information relative to the crime such as a person or vehicle description. The service user then sends their information directly to the police.
In a sense, it’s the modern equivalent of the Wild West’s wanted posters but it does illustrate how information can flow across the cloud. It also begs the larger question about how, where and when information is shared between different organisations.
It is this aspect that has got King excited because he see’s in it an opportunity to help society grow more cohesively. However, there are all sorts of implications for this particular example and questions about whether citizens are being asked to become digital vigilantes. That said, in terms of what the cloud can help achieve, this is a secondary issue.
Most people are moving towards the cloud because of the efficiencies, flexibility and lower costs the technologies enable. The fact that other usage models, predicated upon the easier flow of information, are emerging indicates the cloud is clearly maturing as a technology infrastructure.