With the advent of cloud computing, this generation has access to unlimited users, bandwidth, storage and CPU, said Josh Coates, founder of Mozy and Instructure Inc., in a speech at the Roots Tech Family History and Technology Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday.
Coates said this poses a question for this era of, "What are we going to do with it?" No other generation has ever had this question presented to it because these things weren't available to them.
"Let me tell you why cloud computing is new and useful," Coates said. "It's this: the illusion of infinite resources; no up-front commitment; and pay-as-you-go, on-demand computing power."
"You've never been able to do that before in the history of computing," Coates continued. "It enables anybody that has the know-how and the tenacity to build an entire infrastructure, just by themselves."
Many of the things that enable cloud computing weren't even around until recently, Coates said. Even just 10 years ago, the cost of using bandwidth was thousands of dollars. Now, the cost of using bandwidth has gone down to about a dollar.
Coates also said storage has become much more available recently. "You can get more storage instantly with the cloud than you would really know what to do with."
When the cloud first came out, it was very confusing, Coates said. He used an analogy of factories to explain how the cloud works: Years ago, factories had to use generators for power, but they were always breaking and it was a bad system. People at the factories couldn't always focus on their work because they were constantly fixing generators, Coates said. Then utility companies came along and made things better, and that's what the cloud is like. It makes things better.
Not everyone agrees, however. Some very intelligent people on completely different ends of the spectrum don't like cloud, Coates said.
Coates also gave a bit of a history lesson in his speech as he referred to the different types of memory throughout the years. He said there were 6-inch disks of data that can be traced all the way back to 1700 B.C. Those disks, made of clay tablets, could hold up to 166 bytes of data. By 1981, Morse code was an instant global messaging system.
But Coates said social networks, such as the ones currently used, didn't come onto the scene until 2002. A lot of good things can come from social networking, Coates said, and cited Wikipedia as one of those things.
In the future, someone will come up a new Facebook, Coates said. He doesn't know when, but he said it's inevitable.