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The Cloud is Redefining the Rules of Electronic Design

The ubiquitous connectivity of 'everything to everything' is an incredible technology development dramatically changing the role of technology in our lives now, paving the way for devices to not only be intelligent, but also connected. This development continues to drive the course of design and open up options for designers that weren't possible 10 years ago. Next-generation devices are certain to tap into this power. Electronic design rules will inevitably be changed by the power of these next-generation devices. There are a number of reasons for this.

Next-generation devices must be able to communicate and share data with each other independent of physical location, however smart they are. Having this accessibility allows them to take advantage of the expanding amount of software and services already moving to the cloud. The growth of Internet-based databases and virtualization of computing power to support the cloud is unprecedented.

The fact that quite a bit of physical infrastructure for supporting the cloud is already in place may be overlooked. It's quickly gaining consumer attention but it should be getting our attention as designers. Computing power and intelligence with the cloud far exceeds anything possible with a single PC. Anyone with a desktop or mobile communication device can access the cloud from anywhere. It's user-centric, affordable and, in many instances, free. Just in case you're thinking the idea of the cloud seems a little futuristic, the fact is, it's already here. Web-services standards, Web-software and the emergence of utility-computing are rapidly removing the barriers to more generalized use and are just the beginning.

It's easy then to imagine the business benefits and possibilities with cloud applications. The cloud provides opportunities for multiple points of contacts with customers, updates and license flexibility in ways that go beyond today's improved services or simple upgrades. No longer will users have to fuss with buying software licenses for their home systems as more software becomes Web based. The cloud will be the desktop system for those without a desktop system. And it can be delivered to worldwide audiences.

Couple the idea of incredible connectivity to technologies that deliver superior device intelligence based on reprogrammable hardware. The forecast looks very interesting. It virtually redefines the way we now think about and design electronics. It also provides a warning about not preparing for the future. Technology is changing so rapidly and is moving us quickly beyond the scalability of current design approaches. The time for evaluating how to design with these new requirements is now, not in the future after the fact.

Unlocking the potential of next-generation devices requires a unified design approach. It also means moving past the constraints of today's piecemeal ones. Designers need more flexibility and fewer barriers to create products that can harness device intelligence and connectivity. More importantly, they need to be able to solve design problems with long-term and sustainable solutions instead of just continuing to manage complexity.

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