Cloud Computing will drive the dematerialisation of anything that can be digitised, says Google Australia's head of engineering, Alan Noble.
Speaking at Australia's first ever CloudCamp, Noble sees an exciting convergence of cloud computing and digitisation, or 'digital everything', which will allow people to access information regardless of where they are or the device they're using.
"It’s a very happy convergence so I’m calling it ‘Cloud Nine’," he said. "Obviously there are things that don’t lend themselves to digitisation – it’s going to be quite a while before you start eating digital food, for example. But really it’s about incorporating the bits of information from material."
Many things have already been digitised, such as books, music and media. Google recently announced that it was working with Fairfax to digitise all of the Sydney Morning Herald archives. But that's only the tip of the iceberg, according to Noble.
"Everywhere you look you see paper processing," he told the CloudCamp audience. "The challenge is to get out there and identify those things and figure out how you can make them digital."
Definitions of cloud computing abound, but Noble sees it as "the intersection of utility computing and Software as a Service [SaaS]". Utility computing, because it provides computer resources – computation, bandwidth, memory, networking – in a similar way to a power company or other utilities provider. And Software as a Service because the cloud can take applications and provide them as a service.
"Bringing the two together gives you the elasticity of the cloud with the flexibility of SaaS. And digitisation takes in both of these aspects. Without the cloud digitalisation is just a bunch of information scattered in parts around the world. It’s the cloud that makes digital things accessible and, therefore, useful. And it’s also what makes it possible to collaborate.
"I think digitisation is also going to profoundly affect education. It is really going to be a force for making information much more accessible anytime, anywhere in the world. It is also going to be a force for democracy – it’s going to give people the power to share information in a positive form."