Cloud Computing Is Enabling The Next Phase Of The Internet Evolution

Carlota Perez wrote a book titled “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital” (2002) that is a real interesting read.  Perez says that there have been five historical waves of economic and social transformation in the developed economies of the world. Each of these waves have what she calls an Installation phase followed by a crash of some sort and then a Deployment period. 

HorizonWatching - Carlota Perz 5 Waves

Perez says that our global economy has now entered the deployment phase of the fifth technology investment cycle, which she says is the Age of Information and Telecommunications (see embedded picture).  Perez says that this will be a period of adjustment when novel business models will exploit the new IT infrastructure that is now being put in place that enable more porous, open, collaborative approaches that seek to leverage the economics and flexibility of global sourcing.  She expects enterprises of all sizes will employ technology to help them transform their business models, processes and operations.

As mentioned, Perez says we are entering this Deployment phase. As we do there are some key characteristics across our global economy that is impacting how this phase develops. The firms that will succeed are the firms that will embrace these characteristics and the change that is happening in order to innovate and leapfrog competition.

Important characteristics of our global economy includes:

  • A level, global economic playing field presents new opportunities, challenges and competitive technologies
  • New technologies, services and skills are emerging…and they are quickly being integrated into every aspect of business and everyday life
  • The pace of change is dramatically compressing “windows of opportunity” for real competitive advantage.
  • Billions of skilled people are entering the world’s economy, fundamentally transforming the mix of the global workforce
  • The interconnected nature of our world’s economy means businesses must be prepared to respond to – and capitalize on – changes in real time, with unprecedented flexibility.

While all this is happening, we are moving into what I believe is the third stage of the Internet. Call it Web 3.0 or whatever you wish, but cloud computing is perhaps the most important technology.  In fact, I believe that cloud computing is the key enabling technology for this next technological wave and the next phase in the evolution of the Internet.

HorizonWatching - Private Clouds Enables Next Wave of the Internet

Back in the mid to late 1990s companies were just concerned with getting websites up so they could have a presence on the Internet. It was all about providing very basic information to the public. But soon the so called e-commerce trend arose and business was being conducted on the Internet. Then Web 2.0 came into play and all users realized that they could share their ideas, create content, and collaborate online.  We are now well into this next phase of the evolution where the enabling technologies will be cloud, analytics, mobile, video, and semantic capabilities.  This so called Web 3.0 phase will provide applications that are much more immersive, social, and collaborative in nature.  Combined that with an explosion of networked sensors and advanced predictive analytic and all the Smarter Planet initiatives will become a reality. 

But the most important enabler will be the combination of private and public cloud computing infrastructures that will be the ‘engine’ of the future Internet.

MIT Technology Review: 10 Emerging Technologies of 2010

MIT Tech Review May-Jun_2010_cover The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review (http://www.technologyreview.com/) has released its annual report on 10 Emerging Technologies of 2010.   I always look forward to this annual article for it consistently reports on the interesting work going on in labs and academic institutions.  The articles also provide a human element, telling us about the person behind the work, the problems they are trying to solve, and how they have worked hard to innovate in the field they are researching.

The list of 10 emerging technologies MIT presents in this article have the potential to create fundamental shifts in areas from energy to healthcare, computing to communications.  Any one of them have the potential to significantly impact our lives. 

Some of the listed technologies could reach the market within the year, others may take years, but all are expected to have a huge impact in the years ahead.  Regardless of when they do hit the market, all of them are interesting to read and think about. 

Here the list along with my summary and some links for more information.

  1. Real-Time Search:   Real-time search tools will help us filter out all the social and advertising noise and deliver to us the information we need when we need it.  The article provides us insights into the work of Amit Singhal of Google, who is trying to develop up-to-the-second search results from social networks that offer the same relevance and quality we’ve come to expect from traditional Web searches.  Check out Singhal’s page at http://singhal.info/
  2. Mobile 3-D:   Get ready for Mobile 3-D apps.  The same buzz we are hearing today about how cool 3D movies and TVs are will make its way to smart phones.  Researcher Julien Flack of Dynamic Digital Depth is working hard on developing technology that can convert existing 2-D content to 3-D on the fly.
  3. Engineered Stem Cells:   There’s more and more research going on these days into stem cells and scientists are figuring out ways of engineering stem cells. James Thomson of Cellular Dynamics and the University of Wisconsin is developing an innovative way to engineer stem cells in a test tube.  His breakthroughs have the potential to revolutionize the way we study/treat diseases and develop beneficial drugs.
  4. Solar Fuel:   Scientists are working hard at developing alternative and renewable fuels.  Biofuels is one alternative source of energy that may eventually compete with fossil fuels  MIT provides us with insights into the biofuel research of Noubar Afeyan of Joule Biotechnologies.  Afeyan and his team at Joule have successfully created genetically engineered micro-organisms that can turn sunlight into ethanol or diesel.
  5. Light-Trapping PhotovoltaicsKylie Catchpole of the Australian National University is experimenting with ways to improve the overall potential of solar power as an alternative energy source.   Catchpole has figured out how to use nanoparticles in a way to boost the efficiency of solar cells — an advance that could help make solar power more competitive with fossil fuels.
  6. Social TV:     It’s only a matter of time before we are able to combine, in real-time, our love for social networking with our love for our favorite TV shows.  MIT’s Marie-José Montpetit is working on research related to embedding social networking activities into our TV watching experience.    
  7. Green Concrete:   Nikolaos Vlasopoulos of Novacem has figured out a way to store carbon dioxide in cement during the manufacturing process.  This could be a big boost to the effort to reduce carbon emissions because is estimated that the production of cement could be responsible for as much as 5% of the global carbon emissions.  Read up on the technology here http://novacem.com/technology/novacem-technology/ 
  8. Implantable Electronics:   Future generations will benefit from nano-size drugs and electronic devices that can be implanted in our bodies and then dissolve after their job/task has been completed.  Fiorenzo Omenetto from Tuft University has been researching implantable electronic devices that can be used to deliver drugs, stimulate nerves, monitor biomarkers, and more.
  9. Dual-Action Antibodies:   Reducing the number of drugs patients take can have beneficial impact on quality of life.   Genentech’s Germaine Fuh is working on research related to using dual-action antibodies in drugs that can give patients two drugs for the price of one.
  10. Cloud Programming:   It’s safe to say that Joseph Hellerstein’s mind has been in the clouds lately.  Hellerstein, of the University of California, Berkeley, has been working to create Cloud programming languages that help developers build better cloud applications.    This work could lead to a new wave of Internet-enabled applications, including social media analysis, enterprise computing, or sensor networks monitoring for earthquake warning signs.

Much more information is available online.  I suggest you start at the article and then follow links related to the topics that you are interested in.  http://www.technologyreview.com/specialreports/TR10.

A Primer on 3D Printing

Although 3D printing has been around for a number of decades, the quality has increased dramatically in recent years and the prices are just beginning to drop, making it much more affordable for small and medium businesses.  And if you really want to explore 3D printing, they are even getting cheap enough for consumers to own.

The reality is 3D printing is a very cost-effective way to have an in-house rapid prototyping capability.  For a relatively modest investment, design engineers can use a 3D printer to catch design flaws earlier in the process lowering costs and shortening design cycles.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing involves having the computer sending the coordinates for a 3D object to an output device (a 3D Printer) that employs the same ink-jet printer principle that is used to print on paper.  However, in this case the ‘printer’ deposits successive layers of material to build up a full-scale 3D model.   The material used can be powder, plastics, resins or even metals. 

In the case of powder, the printer is actually delivering ultra-thin layers of powder onto a surface, one on top of another, until it produces a 3D model.  With each successive run of the ‘printer head’, the powder that is deposited is then given a spray of a binding liquid that' helps to harden the powder and help form a solid object. 

The end-result of this process might be a model which designers can use to verify a product’s design qualities before full-scale manufacturing begins, or it might be an end-use specialty product ranging from a component in a complex aircraft engine to a consumer medical  or dental implant.

The big benefits of 3D printing is it’s low cost and speed.  The printers can generally produce models in as little as one-tenth the time it takes other types of machines.  3-D Printer-produced models are throwaway models that allow you to see things you would not be able to see as well on a computer with a CAD system.  The beauty of this approach is people can hold the proposed design, study it, and get a good feel for its shape.

Video Introduction to 3D-Printing

The video below (just under 4 minutes) is a promotional video, but it really is one of the best videos I’ve seen that can help you understand what 3D printing is and how it could be used in an office environment.  The video is from the Z Corporation and it promotes the company’s ZPrinter 450.  While Z Corporation products are out of the price range for most individual users, they represent amazing technology that is commercially available to anyone.

It is doubtful that this new generation of 3D printers can replace traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding, machined or milled parts and manufacturing line assembly.  However I do believe that small and medium specialty manufactures should consider implementing 3D printing processes for individual steps or subsystems in a traditional line manufacturing process.  It is very possible that these new low cost printers would help reduce overall manufacturing costs.

For More Information

Wikipedia has a nice article on 3D printing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing).  And the site Fab@Home has lots of good information.  For those of you wanting to learn more about products and services out on the market, here are a few vendor sites to visit

  • Desktop Factory  Makes a very small and affordable printers that truly fit on top of a desk.
  • 3D Systems   Provides mid-range solutions that employ a technology that film transfers photopolymer to build 3-D objects
  • Z Corp  Is widely thought of as providing top of the line printers for an office environment

A Primer on Telepresence

With the economy the shape it is in right now, companies will be looking for an edge in cutting costs.  Watch for more companies to implement telepresence and video collaboration solutions in the effort to reduce corporate travel, improve global operations, and drive remote workforce productivity.

Video technologies and organizational capabilities have improved in the corporate environment.  As a result, companies are finally able to realize strong business benefits to support efforts in business uses as varied as reducing the corporate environmental footprint, promoting globalized workforce collaboration, accelerating complex product development initiatives, and aiding remote talent acquisition.

Telepresence Overview:  Telepresence – a kind of video conference providing the sensation that all participants are actually in the same room – is set for explosive growth.  TelePresence delivers real-time, face-to-face interactions between people and places in their work and personal lives using advanced visual, audio, and collaboration technologies.  These technologies transmit life-size, high-definition images and spatial discrete audio.  Telepresence delivers video that makes it easier than ever to discern facial expressions for those crucial business discussions and negotiations across the "virtual table." The telepresence illusion is so real that many execs forget the person they’re talking to is not really in the same room.  See a video of how this looks.

Opportunity: According to recent research by ABI, the whole market, which includes telepresence equipment, network services and managed services, is forecast to grow from a 2007 level of not quite $126 million to nearly $2.5 billion in 2013.  Telepresence solutions can cost in the neighborhood of $300,000, but many telepresence operations are handled as managed services.  And less expensive “executive” systems designed for one or two people mean that telepresence technology is now migrating down to middle managers, expanding the market.

Driving Forces:

  • The high cost of travel (in money, wasted time, and carbon emissions).
  • Increased need for a remote workforce to participate in time-sensitive collaboration sessions.
  • Demands of worldwide outsourcing
  • Improved and lower cost technologies for video, audio and collaboration

Inhibitors: Videoconferencing has traditionally been a difficult technology to implement in the enterprise, with problems: latency, jitter, poor video equipment, insufficient concern over the videoconferencing environment, lack of business purpose, organizational commitment, and comfort with using this technology.

Segmentation: According to a report by IDC (Worldwide Telepresence 2008–2012 Forecast and Analysis), there are three primary markets for telepresence solutions:

  • CEO and senior executive travel reduction (whether corporate jet or commercial airline travel),
  • Teamwork, and
  • Room rentals for companies unable to afford their own rooms.

Vendor Landscape: According to ABI Research, (see their vendor matrix – registration required) the top five telepresence vendors to watch are:

  1. Cisco Systems – Cisco is positioned very well to participate in the future telepresence market and they are pushing their solutions at this website.
  2. Tandberg – http://www.tandberg.com/totaltelepresence/
  3. Teliris – http://www.teliris.com/
  4. Polycom Incorporated:  http://www.polycom.com/usa/en/products/telepresence_video/telepresence_solutions/index.html
  5. Digital Video Enterprises:  http://www.dvetelepresence.com/

Future Vision: It is easy to imagine a future where we use video conferencing as easy as we use instant messaging today.  The adoption will move from simple employee to employee webcam video calls to social networking and collaborative solutions that connect not only employees to one another, but CEOs to CEOs.  Future business applications will be video conference enabled, allowing businesses to collaborate seamlessly with their vendors, partners, and customers.

Future Challenges: Looking forward to the future, the biggest obstacle facing the mass adoption of telepresence is interoperability.  Although telepresence vendors have begun to broach the issue of interoperability, the market is far from allowing complete federation across all systems to allow for room-to-room calling.  Vendors are pushing forward very slowly interoperability, saying that standards, modularity, and interoperability are at odds with the art and science behind creating telepresence experiences and the potential for continued innovation in this space.  So at least for awhile, interoperability will take a back seat to innovation.

Hungry For more information?

14 Emerging Technologies on My Radar

Here's some technologies that will impact us in the future that I am keeping my eye on.  Some of these are around today but just haven’t hit prime time, others are in the works. 

  1. Internet 3.0    The web will transform into a personal agent that basically tells us what we want to to know and when we want to know it.  Important enabling technologies will be wireless technology, sensors, location and semantic technologies. 
  2. Enterprise Social Networks:  We are already seeing the impact of social networks on our personal lives, but they are just starting to make inroads into enterprises.  Social networking technology will have profound impacts on management systems within enterprises.  Corporations will turn to new innovative business models based off of crowdsourcing, social network analysis, prediction markets and user ratings. 
  3. Virtual Worlds:    There is no doubt that virtual worlds need to get easier before they become more mainstream.  It has to be integrated with social software platforms and instant messaging.  Ease of use, visible presence, unified communications and personalization will make virtual worlds a reality. 
  4. Nanotechnology….Already having an impact in a number of industries, nanotechnology will enable unprecedented levels of control with incredibly small parts…having all sorts of implications for future materials, hardware components, and devices.
  5. User Interfaces:   We are so used to using the mouse and the keyboard as an input device.  I think we are in the early stages of totally new ways to interact with our electronic devices.  The short term focus will be on touch technologies.  After that, I expect advancements in gesture computing and speech technology.  Regarding display technology, I'll be looking for new displays that will offer 3D, be flexible and project over large areas. 
  6. 3D printers:  3D printers will provide a way for businesses to rapidly prototype potential products.  The technique involves "printing" three-dimensional objects with plaster or resin.  Some are even predicting a mass market for 3D printers for consumers.
  7. Robots:  Robots will increasingly make their way into the business and consumer markets.  The Roomba vacuum robot we have in our house does a great job.  Expect robots to be increasingly used for applications like military operations, lifting and rescue operations, security, healthcare delivery, human companionship and other mundane chores. 
  8. Mobile Applications & Services.   There can be no question that mobile devices are important to the future of business.  The gold rush is on to develop enterprise-based mobile applications, services and cloud infrastructures, both public and private.   I expect a flood of new application services designed specifically for the business mobile user, including those incorporating location awareness, video, and social technologies.  In the future, your mobile device will contain your profile information and will mediate relationships across social networks, commercial transactions, security clearances, and any device with embedded intelligence.
  9. Human augmentation:   Technology is increasingly playing an important part in healthcare.  My eyesight is just great thanks to that Lasik surgery I had 9 years ago.   On the horizon are advancements in implants, brain interfaces, genetic selection and nerve to prosthesis applications.  If you saw the movie IronMan last year, you have an idea of where all this is heading. 
  10. Telepresence/Video Conferencing.   Telepresence and 3D video conferencing capability will eventually be common for enterprises, having a huge impact on corporate travel, workforce collaboration and productivity.  It will allow enterprises to form closer relationships with clients, partners, and clients.
  11. Quantum Computing….Perhaps a little further out than a 15 year planning horizon, quantum computing will allow computers to perform calculations in seconds versus the hours it takes today.
  12. Embedded Intelligence…Embedded intelligence will enable an increasing amount of communication with mobile devices, appliances, store shelves, vehicles, bridges, buildings, people, animals, and even plants.  Embedded technologies and solutions will allow enterprises to create a true sense and respond framework.  By extracting useful events and insights from this data, organizations can quickly respond to new opportunities and / or threats. 
  13. Cloud Computing… The rise of data-intensive applications, virtualization, and mobile and networking technologies is driving adoption of cloud computing.  As sensors proliferate and the world becomes 'smarter', more computing power will be needed to keep up with all the transactions.
  14. Cleantech… There is a growing focus on products and services that improve the efficiency of assets while reducing energy usage, waste, or pollution.  There are a number of emerging technologies in this area, including water management, solar energy, wind energy, biofuel green buildings, green IT, intelligent transportation systems, smart grid, and fuel cells.

There's more than just fourteen on my radar list, but these come to front of mind right now.

IBM’s 5 in 5

IBM has a list it calls the Next 5 in 5.  This is a list coming out of IBM research that provides a list of five innovations that are going to change the way we live in the next five years.  The next 5 in 5 according to IBM are

  1. We will be able to access healthcare remotely, from just about anywhere in the world
  2. Real-time speech translation—once a vision only in science fiction—will become the norm
  3. There will be a 3-D Internet
  4. Technologies the size of a few atoms will address areas of environmental importance
  5. Our mobile phones will start to read our minds

For more information, access the IBM 5 in 5 website where you can read up on each of the five and download a PDF.