While the application of cloud computing in enterprise environments has been well explored in recent years, talk of the technology on the consumer front has been relatively quiet. However, the trend of cloud development for consumers is beginning to accelerate as more services are introduced.
At the Cloud Connect event in Santa Clara, California, Cisco cloud CTO Lew Tucker predicted a “world of many clouds,” in which the technology moves beyond computer, servers and the like, and is incorporated into more everyday objects, such as household appliances and automobiles, CRN reported. While that idea may seem unusual, it, apparently, is not that far off – particularly with some recent announcements.
Automakers Ford and Toyota both recently announced plans to incorporate the cloud in their electric vehicles. Ford, in a partnership with AT&T, said it will introduce a cloud service and smartphone app for its upcoming Focus Electric. The app, called MyFord Mobile, lets users connect to their vehicle through the cloud. According to Ford, Focus owners will be able to monitor and control charge settings, locate charge stations, plan trips and control the car’s engine temperature.
Toyota’s cloud, meanwhile, differs somewhat from Ford’s. Introduced for the auto maker’s upcoming hybrid and electric vehicles, Toyota, too, will enable owners to monitor and control charge settings. Additionally, they will be able to access GPS and telecommunications information and stream music from their cloud-based libraries, Wired magazine reports.
Beyond vehicles, cloud vendors are rolling out a handful of other consumer-focused cloud services, like Amazon’s recently announced Cloud Drive, which lets users store their entire music libraries in the cloud and access from anywhere with an Internet connection – be it the home, office, coffee shop or airport.
However, according to a recent report by GfK Business & Technology, the large majority of consumers lack knowledge of the cloud. In a survey of 1,000 adults, 62 percent of respondents indicated they were not aware of the cloud or didn’t have a full understanding of the technology.
In actuality, the cloud for consumers is not a new concept. Services like Facebook, web-based email and various photo storage websites are all examples of cloud computing that have obviously been used by consumers for years. The phrase “cloud computing” simply hasn’t often been attached to them.
With the rise of mobile devices and various consumer-focused services, the consumer cloud market is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. According to a 2010 Business Insights report, the consumer cloud market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 24.5 percent between 2010 and 2018, hitting $71.4 billion by end of the forecast period.