Coming soon to Chicago: A potential threat to Amazon

Three companies — Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. — quietly dominate the world of cloud computing.

With more more than 100 giant data centers worldwide, they rent out computing power to all manner of customers, making billions of dollars along the way. In fact, cloud computing has done more to fuel Amazon’s earnings in recent years than its e-commerce business.

Amazon

But there’s a threat looming on the horizon, quite literally at the edge of the network. With so many mobile devices and sensors now connected to the internet — and relying on artificial intelligence — more people and companies need their computing power close to them.

For everything from fast analysis of road conditions to streaming holographic concerts, remote data centers are just too far away.

That’s going to hand a huge opportunity to wireless carriers, which are building fast 5G networks to handle the task. And create a threat for the dominant cloud-computing players, according to telecom analyst Chetan Sharma.

“Over time, cloud will be primarily used for storage and running longer computational models, while most of the processing of data and AI inference will take place at the edge,” said Sharma, who just wrote a report on the topic sponsored by software provider AlefEdge Inc.

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