Hands up who would have guessed that the online book reseller, Amazon.com, would turn out to be the enterprise cloud mammoth it has become. If your hand is up then I don’t believe you. No one seen them coming, no one predicted that cloud computing was so ripe for the taking. Just as Microsoft completely misread the importance of the Internet and allowed the likes of FireFox, Google, Yahoo establish a foothold, Amazon completely stole the world of cloud computing from under the noses of the computing establishment.
By comparison, everyone is playing catch-up to Amazon’s meteoric cloud growth. But if it happened once, could it happen again? It would be churlish and shortsighted to assume it couldn’t, and just as Amazon out flanked the whole computing industry, there are a number of players quietly working that could pop up and surprise us.
Amazon never set out to be the cloud provider they are today – they were simply solving an internal problem which was to keep the lights on for their e-commerce site and be able to scale quickly and easily through peak period times of the day and the year. Fair to say they achieved that goal and more, to the point where they could start selling off spare capacity in their data center and create a whole new business line out of it.
So the question you have to ask yourself, who else is busying solving their own problems and building out huge amounts of processing and storage scale that could one day benefit others if repackaged?
I offer up the automotive industry as likely candidates. People like Tesla, Ford or General Motors are all working on far more innovative computing problems than most give them credit for. The modern day car has a huge amount of processing power contained within, collecting data from a whole range of sensors. That is before we even get to the self-driving revolution – but they are preparing themselves for that scale.
So why aren’t they simply using cloud providers like Amazon, Google or Microsoft? They probably are in part, but it is in their best interests to build out out their own. Cars stay in circulation for a very long time, and even though the car passes from owner-to-owner, the data is still being collected and analyzed. This data is too valuable to hosted on a 3rd parties data center. The security implications alone is too much to simply trust to another.
As drivers we demand that our cars are not vulnerable to any attacks. We demand a closed ecosystem that is secure and immune from the noise that the Internet can sometimes generate (imagine if you will your car going down as a result of the Internet going offline because of the DNS attack a few weeks ago).
This is why Tesla and others are busy building their own closed secure systems that can scale dramatically and continually. These are the same sort of problems that IoT (Internet of Things) companies will be looking to solve as their devices go online and live perpetually for many years.
In addition, due to the very large volumes of historical event data grows, so will the need to innovate tools to pour over and analyze these data sets. This is another area I believe the likes of the automotive companies could outflank the traditional data companies. I would also put Uber into that category; the sheer amount of data they are collecting and processing would make you blink.
Amazon caught the industry off guard and redefined the whole landscape while they were still arguing over whether or not the business model was viable or even serious.
It will happen again and from a quarter we least expect it from.