Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

What’s the next big cloud breakthrough?

October 13, 2015

Cloud technology and big data are set to change every aspect of how we work, play and live our lives.

It’s an increasingly connected world where humans are pooling our data at a greater rate and in larger amounts than ever before, with access to powerful, ever improving and innovating tools wherever we are. And that has the potential to make some truly amazing things happen.

Decoding our genetic data

Organisations like DNAstack and Autism Speaks are using cloud technology to handle massive amounts of genetic data in a quest to discover what makes us tick and bring us closer to the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow.

One person’s entire DNA sequence (also known as a human genome) can take up as much as 200 gigabytes of data. That’s only one sample of many, so you can imagine the quantity of data they are dealing with.

Adopting the cloud allows such organisations to gather, process, store and share these complex biological datasets much more easily, flexibly and quickly. It’s one of many ideal uses for the technology that people are discovering all the time.

Opening up research and resources

The cloud is causing such a stir in the research community that in 2015 the European Commission announced its plans to fund a Europe-wide scientific research cloud. The project would mean that institutions such as CERN, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the European Space Agency could share a range of cloud computing services.

The unified European open science cloud would bring together the institutions’ cloud infrastructures, opening up access to research and allowing researchers across many different fields to collaborate. It’s all part of a new transformation in the way research is conducted, which has been dubbed ‘open science’ – similar to the concept of open source software development.

Searching for signs of alien life

Cloud computing’s cousin, distributed computing, has also been used in a wide range of scientific projects. Rather than many users sharing the same computational resources, distributed computing means that each individual user contributes the computing power of their own computer to analyse their share of the data. Many hands make light work – or rather, many computers crunch a lot of data together.

The most famous scientific use of distributed computing is the SETI@Home app, which has been downloaded by millions of people worldwide. SETI stands for the Search for Extra Terrestrial Life, and each user of the app can analyse their own piece of radio telescope data in the hope that one of them will discover signs that we are not alone. It could take a while, though – there’s literally a universe of data out there to be sifted through.

From public institutions to private enterprise, all kinds of organisations are taking to the cloud and reaching new heights of innovation. What’s next? Only time will tell. But when it comes to cloud technology, the only way is up.

For help in your organisation’s transition to the cloud, read our new white paper

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