chief technology officer, predicts 2021 will see a much broader distribution of the technologies that have been powering big corporations.
The shift, which includes connecting more devices to the cloud, and better access to machine learning, builds on recent advances in software and silicon as well as the acceleration of digital initiatives by companies over the past year.
“I tried to stay with some of the things that I know will be happening because we have some control of them,” said Mr. Vogels. On Wednesday, he shared eight predictions based on customer-behavior patterns and technology investments by the company. Some highlights below.
The cloud will be everywhere. Next year will see more devices and more organizations powered by the cloud.
Mr. Vogel, whose expertise in scalable systems led him to Amazon.com in 2004, predicts that the cloud in 2021 will continue to move beyond the traditional notion of a centralized system, with troves of data moving back and forth between customers and massive data centers in real time.
Cloud applications will be accessed from more devices.
Part of the expansion will be driven by more points of presence, edge devices that can conduct more of the computing power, sensors and even the expansion of super-fast 5G networks.
“Making sure you have this access to cloud-computing technology as close to the user of that technology as possible is crucial,” he said.
The move will enable areas where low latency and high bandwidth matter, like home automation or self-driving trucks operating in hazardous environments. “There is a part of the cloud on that truck to make autonomous decisions as well as move data back to improve operations over time,” he said.
Cloud technology in 2021 will also power more businesses, on Earth and in space.
He predicts that more small and medium-size businesses will take advantage of the cloud, and in the process take advantage of capabilities previously only available to large enterprises.
Anticipating a huge increase in space-related cloud-computing contracts globally, Amazon Web Services earlier this year announced a dedicated segment, Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, aimed at the final frontier, building on AWS Ground Station, launched in 2019 to help customers control satellites and manage the data they collect. Researchers in 2021 increasingly will enlist these capabilities to tackle climate change and other issues, he predicts.
More machine learning. Mr. Vogels expects to see an accelerated adoption in 2021 of machine learning, algorithms that learn automatically from data. And like the cloud, machine-learning capabilities will increasingly be embedded closer to users.
What can that mean? Firefighters on the line in California were able to predict the possible path of a wildfire through a machine-learning application that compared a current fire against historical fire behaviors.
Mr. Vogels also expects an explosion of machine-to-machine connections thanks to the proliferation of sensors and devices connected to the cloud. Mr. Vogels predicts that over 50% of internet connections will be machine-to-machine in next year, up from 33% in 2018.
Software drives quantum computing advances. This year, Amazon.com made its quantum computing service Amazon Braket available to the public. 2021 will be the year the technology picks up, Mr. Vogels predicts, although the main driver won’t necessarily be hardware.
The better the software to build applications, the better idea customers will have on the specific applications they want to build and how to build them, he said.
“In this world of quantum in the coming year, I think that we will definitely see a revolution in how software and support software is being built,” he said.
Write to Tom Loftus at Thomas.Loftus@wsj.com
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