The cloud is everywhere. It's on smartphones, desktop computers, tablets, even on television sets. Slowly but surely the answer of what is cloud computing is being answered. But if one were forced to pinpoint one, and only one, location where the cloud could be found most easily, many technology experts would say Seattle is the place to look. When it comes to development of cloud computing technology, the northwest city of Seattle has become a destination location for the best and brightest. Companies large and small that specialize in the cloud have made their moves to that region, bringing with it innovative ideas and breakthrough creations. But is all the hype surrounding Seattle as cloud computing central really true and will it continue to remain so in the future? The answer is one that many within the industry want to know because it will inform many important business decisions over the next few years.
There's little doubt how much the cloud's influence has grown in the Emerald City, which should come as no surprise considering the connections Seattle has had with technology for decades. The region is, of course, home to Microsoft and Amazon, but though those companies got their start in the Seattle area, the hub of all things technology eventually moved south to California. The tide, however, might be turning in that regard. Companies are viewing Seattle as the place to set up their cloud computing operations. Besides Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which are the leading cloud providers, companies like Google and Dropbox have set up branches specifically dedicated to cloud computing. Google alone now boasts more than 1,400 employees in the state of Washington, with around a thousand of them in or around Seattle. And the companies keep coming. Apple recently announced a new engineering center where they are looking for experts in cloud computing technology, and Tableau Software is a leading cloud software business now located in Seattle. Cloud startups -- like Skytap and Shippable -- have also become a common sight.
These businesses are what makes Seattle such an appealing area for cloud development. More companies specializing in the cloud leads to more investment in the technology, which in turn leads to more momentum for the regional cloud movement. It also helps to establish the needed connections and infrastructure that can prove so crucial to the development of new technologies. Infrastructure can be costly, requiring significant amounts of resources and funds to get things going. With those already in place in Seattle, it's easier for companies to get started on cloud computing development.
While it may be clear that Seattle is the current epicenter for the cloud, what does the future hold? One of the benefits to becoming such a central location for cloud computing is the talent every company brings with it. Seattle is now virtually filled with skilled programmers and developers who have expertise in the cloud and all its capabilities. This flood of talent to one area can lead to what Matt McIlwain of Madrona Venture Group has called the multi-generation effect. Talent from a large company can split off to form their own company and become a success. Talent from that break-off company can do the same thing and eventually form a new business. The cycles repeats until the region becomes saturated with tech companies. It's already being witnessed in Seattle and could mean strong growth for cloud companies in the area for many years to come.
To be sure, not everybody is convinced Seattle will remain so important to the cloud computing scene. Seattle still has to compete with places like San Francisco and Silicon Valley, places which have even deeper technical roots than the Northwest and have a head start on venture capital. The cloud is also a global phenomenon, with some experts saying the location of businesses no longer matters as much as it used to. The state of Washington also has stricter laws when it comes to non-compete clauses, which may make it more difficult for the multi-generational effect to make a full impact. Despite these obstacles, many within the technology community remain optimistic about Seattle's growth as a cloud computing paradise. If breakthroughs and revolutions are to happen within the cloud sphere, they will most likely originate from Seattle, and that doesn't look like it will change anytime soon.