When we switch on our television sets or charge our smartphones, we don't think about the technology that makes this possible.
Few of us have reason to remember Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla and his daring engineering in the late 19th century that paved the way for how power is generated, transmitted and distributed today.
But what does this have to do with data centers of the future and empty rooms?
A great deal.
Tesla's remarkable invention of alternating current (or AC) opened the door for power generation and distribution over great distances, at a fraction of the cost of the then prevailing model of direct current (or DC). Similarly, the expansion of cloud in computing technology is replacing data centers in physical rooms.
This is because cloud—like Tesla's AC model of power—is empowered to host limitless amounts of computing power and data while ensuring its seamless 'transmission and distribution' infinitely. Further, its capacity to process and relay zillions of gigabytes of information quickly and cost-effectively means that it can provide cognitive technology with the reams of information to crunch and churn out highly customized insights.
In fact, cloud and cognitive technologies present enterprises with the historic opportunity to collaborate in real-time by using information as it is being generated, irrespective of location or size.
So, whether it is in sports or real estate, construction or retail, the cloud powered by cognitive is creating smarter organizations that can figure and reconfigure. To use a feature of Tesla's model of alternating current, it helps these companies 'step-up' and 'step-down' as their businesses change and evolve.
This explains the writing on the wall: Data centers that were once at the heart of enterprise IT will one day be empty rooms.
This dramatic shift that I believe all enterprises will undergo, takes me back to the analogy I opened this piece with - the epic war that took place between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla in the late 1800s. While Edison laid the building blocks by inventing the light bulb, the one who transformed the idea of lighting homes, streets and machines was Tesla. This is because Tesla literally inverted Edison’s idea of direct current by proposing that it was never going to suffice to serve a large population's needs cost-effectively. What was required instead was alternating current that could generate vast amounts of electricity, step up the voltage as it travels across distances, and deliver to private and commercial consumers the amount of electricity they needed after stepping down its voltage to a lower quantity.
What Tesla in effect brought about was a clear separation between the generation of power and the ability to distribute it across vast distances, countless times. He proved that once generated, power can be scaled infinitely in keeping with expressed demand.
I believe that what Tesla did for electricity is what cloud is doing for computing. Enterprises are no longer limited by the physical boundaries set by on-premise data centers. They are tinkering around more, including the access they provide the employees to work files, and doing so knowing that the cloud provides them with the scalability needed to re-strategize operations.
Companies in the creative space are leveraging the benefits of this flexibility. They are attracting independent professionals across multiple locations to work for them remotely via cloud, through connected tablets, smartphones and laptops.
The cloud is transforming how businesses are run. As enterprise growth is increasingly determined by how well a company responds to its customers' distinct needs, the imperative to envision products and services in a 'front-to-back' fashion, where customer requirements inspire business offerings, is set to grow.
As a result, enterprises are finding value in investing in future-looking technologies. These systems gather data from an array of sites in real-time and feed them back into application development procedures so that they better reflect what customers want. Retailers, for example, are leveraging the cloud to offer their customers a seamless mobile experience, as they know that more than 30% of commerce now occurs on mobile devices. They are also using cloud-powered data analytics to pull real-time data from various digital platforms to give customers their preferred styles and products.
Marketing firms can now transform novel ideas emerging from brainstorming sessions into new business plans. All this is possible due to IT systems hosted on the cloud, which allows agility, quick set-ups and forays into distant markets so far untouched due to sheer distance and related logistical difficulties.
One of the ways in which some businesses are further drilling down the benefits of moving to cloud is by adding a layer of intelligence using cognitive computing technologies. Being aware of the need to not only be agile and flexible but intuitive, is leading these companies to look at making natural language processing and visual recognition functions an integral part of any cloud IT system. This is also playing out in the B2B space. Take for example, washing machine manufacturers who cater to hotels. Although the technology that helps understand when a machine may need repair has been around for a while, cognitive computing along with IoT now makes it possible for manufacturers to alert business users to have access to even more sophisticated information that can be harnessed to deliver seamless, problem-free performance.
But more anything else, what is clear is that as the myriad benefits that cloud delivers become abundantly evident, its propensity to impact how we work, live, play and consume information becomes unimaginable. I believe the day is not far when enterprises will look back, as we do now on Tesla’s innovation, and remark how incredulous it is that there was once a time when enterprise IT didn’t have the cloud.
This point of view article originally published on Forbes.com has been shared by Nitin Rakesh, CEO and Executive Director, Mphasis. Forbes, the No. 1 business news source in the world, is among the most trusted resources for senior business executives, providing them the real-time reporting, uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and community they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning. Forbes reaches an audience of 931,0558 for their print edition, and 3,600,000 for their online edition.
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