There can be no doubt that technology trends over the years point to a rapid change in user requirements. The days of relying on a large, clunky desktop PC to provide a portal to the internet and other traditional, desktop-only applications are quickly diminishing. While PC sales continue to plummet, smartphone sales continue to soar and innovative devices such as Chromebooks are increasing their market share dramatically, poaching customers that, traditionally, would rely on desktop programs that can now be fully accessed in the cloud.
The importance of speed and portability to users cannot be understated, but can cloud computing really enhance the data analytics sector?
Google certainly hope so. Their push into analytics with ‘Cloud Machine Learning’ demonstrates their eagerness to challenge the offerings from their big-name competitors, such as IBM and Microsoft, entering an already crowded marketplace. For end users that have become increasingly accustomed to the convenience-lead developments in technology, the real question is whether basing analytics in the cloud is a killer feature or a further barrier to implementation.
As marketing professor, Scott Thorne, put it when discussing another successful iPhone launch: “People don’t buy features in a product, they buy benefits”. With this in mind, focusing resources on a slower implementation and costly upkeep becomes increasingly difficult to justify when there are other solutions that produce tangible benefits in very little time due to rapid implementation.
When migrating data to a cloud service, even the simplest of tasks can be exacerbated; offline access to the most up-to-date data, internet speed and regular server maintenance can become regular annoyances before even considering the considerable data security risks associated with storing personal data in a remote location. Apple learned the hard way that persistent hackers can gain access to personal files and it may be the case that those in the healthcare sector are less likely to part with sensitive data sets.
With this in mind, the revelation that Google subsidiary, DeepMind, has been granted access to a wealth of NHS data showcases the trust that has been placed in external companies. With the sharing of information described as ‘business as usual’, the data will be used to power the innovative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies used to create potentially life-saving algorithms that can warn specific patient groups at a greater risk of developing kidney injuries. This example points to the potentially positive impact of cloud services on the health sector, with the NHS in desperate need to modernise its data utilisation.
In business, the disruption caused by the initial migration to the cloud has been an unavoidable hurdle that even the biggest companies have had to account for. Both Google and Amazon have signed deals to implement ‘active-transactional replication technology’; a new solution that hopes to quicken the huge amounts of time currently required to move vast amounts of data to the cloud.
While cloud-based solutions will continue to evolve, the relocation of data is currently an arduous task that may prove too much for businesses who cannot put the time aside for a lengthy installation process.
Regardless of device or operating system, integration with cloud-based technology is quickly becoming a staple of every device and software vendor. As technology has evolved, so too has the needs of the consumer; full access to data analysis on any portable device must be the long term aim, but local storage will always prove to be the easier option until cloud-based software implementation can match the speed of its operation.