Computing Inefficiencies and the Cloud

Have you ever thought how inefficient today’s computing world really is? Inefficient, you say? I thought computers have made us more efficient! Well, yes, computers have made us more efficient with the tasks we use them for, but the entire computing infrastructure itself is largely inefficient. But hold on, this isn’t a criticism. It is simply a realization that advancements in technology are opening up opportunities to compute more efficiently. Take personal computers, for example.

There are unquestionably billions of personal computers all over the world. Each of these computers has a processor, maybe a separate graphics processor, RAM, and a hard drive. How often do you think these processors, and this RAM, and these hard drives are fully utilized? As a percentage of each computer’s life, either turned on or off, I’m sure it could be calculated that the utilization rate of the full capability of this collective network of machines is pretty small (I have no idea how small, but you know, small). That’s a lot of excess capacity, a lot of waste.

Now imagine if you could share that excess capacity. Or imagine if the excess capacity didn’t exist in the first place. This is where cloud computing comes in. Eventually, as the Internet becomes more robust, with more consistently fast connection speeds and greater stability, I think we’ll see a tremendous boom in cloud computing and an offsetting drop in “personal” computing. This is on the whole, not in every instance.

For example, with the cloud we could eliminate much of the excess hard drive capacity currently sitting on individual computers. It really doesn’t make sense to have our own personal hard drives. It would be more efficient to have a network of shared drives, just enough to accommodate the collective demand for storage space, no excess, other than for redundancy. Similarly, instead of having a powerful processor on each machine, why not do all of the computing in the cloud and simply send the results to our screens? If the cloud connection is fast enough, we’d never know the difference between local or teleprocessing.

Ultimately, the cloud will do all of these things and more, reducing, if not eliminating, the excess computing capacity that currently exists. It will take time, and there will be bumps along the way, but at some point cloud computing will be as ubiquitous as the personal computing we know today and we won’t know the difference between the two.