So Saas is evaporating your hard drives, yip, ours too. Evaporation, aka dematerialization seems to pretty much be the norm these days. Along with the Uber-economy, it’s the usual suspect when it comes to disrupting industries. But concretely, where will the future of cloud computing leave us?
Taking the music industry and its long history of disruption as the example, I tried to imagine the future shape of the enterprise Cloud… What will your tech department look like in years to come (and will you even have one)?
Lessons Learnt: CDs to MP3s
The evaporation of hardware, aka dematerialization has hit industries across the board, like digital photos leading to the demise of Kodak film, the traditional TV industry with the rise of Netflix.
The beginnings of the music industry’s dematerialization, took shape over 15 years ago as people started downloading and streaming music rather than buying CDs. Thanks to the introduction of MP3s, and the ipod.
So is the Cloud is to our computing infrastructure, what MP3 were to CD’s?
If we take the music industry as an example, digital disruption seems to have an impact that is both progressive and centralized on the themes of control and ownership. Running a very close second to these ideas is a resounding: who and how people are making and spending money in the modified industry landscape.
In the case of dematerialization of computing power, control is also a major theme, although ownership might be better thought of in terms of “security”.
It took years for music recording and distribution companies to concretise workable solutions for interacting with (and making money from) the dematerialised music industry, notably with platforms such as itunes, iMusic, spotify and deezer.
Computing infrastructure is currently where we were in the 2002 for music. The tectonic plates are shifting under us.
It’s taken a while, but the music industry is finding its feet under a new business model, from FT.
Regulating in Unknown Territory
The digital disruption of the music industry initially centered around issues illegal downloads and issues around copyright, before finding pay-as-you go streaming services, or on-site advertising as revenue streams. And mirroring the early days of itunes when music pirating was conspicuously policed, the cloud computing industry is hearing calls for “unified set of operational standards as as software eats further and further into the infrastructure stack.”
Yet, collective wisdom may tell us that market forces can’t be regulated. It is the end-consumer or in the case of computing infrastructure the corporate client, that will shape the new industry landscape.
The launch of AWS’s Lex* was hot on this lips of all those who attended last year’s Re: Invent AWS event, while we generally understood what it was “voice recognition” technology. It’s the “democratisation of technology” that this launch symbolises, that’s as important as what it actually does. According to AWS, “Amazon Lex democratizes deep learning technologies by putting the power of Alexa within reach of all developers. Harnessing these technologies, Lex enables you to define entirely new categories of products made possible through conversational interfaces.”
Take a step back and try to imagine a future shaped by the availability of this kind of technology. It’s democratised because this kind of sophistication would have once been the domain of some pretty specialised experts. It’s the first AI solution based on deep learning to made available on the market, in fact in the past it was embedded in AWS Alexa - Venturebeat describes it as the bot framework that powered Alexa.
“As a fully managed service, Lex scales automatically, so you don’t need to worry about managing infrastructure. With Amazon Lex, you pay only for what you use. There are no upfront commitments or minimum fees.”
So Lex, puts some pretty impressive technology in the hands of developers to write their own interfaces. And not only this, it’s proposed as a pay-as-you-go service. So there is no need to make a big outright investment, but once Lex is part of your offer you’ll be pretty much locked into buying it.
Everyone’s a Developer Now
We can liken this to the garageband platform for those who want to make music rather than apps, “GarageBand for Mac has everything you need to learn, play, record, mix, and share great-sounding music, even if you've never played a note.” The digital audio workstation creates the drumbeats, recording technology and mastering quality once exclusive to specialist sound mixer and their expensive recording studio, and makes it usable, with various degrees of sophistication to my 9 year old son.
So imagine anyone in your company, not just developers, able create the applications of their (and your dreams). While we aren’t quite there yet, if the music industry disruption shows us one thing, it’s only a matter of time. The potential is huge and will become even bigger as coding interfaces become adapted to the every-person and the pay-as-you go modular business models means anyone can try it for a while.
Demetallization Gives the Keys to Everyman
So if “ the infrastructure is disappearing into the background and the software applications will take center stage. “ what does that mean? The idea of democratization is often associated with dematerialization and the new economy, with the rise of AWS Lambda, and talks of Google, IBM and others building their own serverless computing platforms, that’s quickly becoming a reality. The potential is huge and will become huger as coding interfaces become adapted to the every-person.
So what do you think, can we draw parallels between the Music and Computing Infrastructure industries? Are those cited in this article relevant? Let us know what the future shaped by the Cloud looks like?