What does the metaverse – the set of interconnected 3D environments poised to revolutionize the way people interact on the Internet – mean for cloud computing?
The answer is probably a mystery, as the metaverse remains a somewhat vague concept and we are still in the very early stages of actually building a metaverse.
Still, at this point, the ideas behind the metaverse are well-formed enough to allow for informed guesses about how the rise of the metaverse could change the way we use and manage the cloud.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five key ways the metaverse — whatever form it takes — is likely to affect the cloud.
Metaverse means more cloud
First and foremost, the rise of the metaverse is likely to further increase the demand for cloud computing services.
The reason why is simple: hosting 3D environments requires a lot of compute and storage resources, and it’s a safe bet that few companies that want to run a metaverse environment will buy their own hardware to do so. Instead, they’re turning to the cloud to host the metaverse, as they’ve been doing for a while most other workloads†
So, add the metaverse to the list of reasons why cloud computing providers are likely to: get richer the coming years.
Metaverse may need purpose-built clouds
That said, the profit that the metaverse drives for cloud computing platforms may not flow to the major generic public cloud providers, namely Amazon, Google and Microsoft, in the first place.
Instead we can see alternate clouds that specialize in metaverse hosting. That’s especially true, as the infrastructure needed to run metaverse environments may require specialized hardware — like GPUs — which are currently not a major focus of major public cloud providers. AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offer some GPU-enabled VM instances, but they don’t specialize in that market, giving smaller cloud providers the opportunity to fill the gap.
To the extent that the major public clouds do invest in metaverse hosting, I suspect they will do so by launching managed services that amount to metaverse-as-a-service – meaning fully hosted and managed offerings that allow customers to create their own, customized metaverse environments with little effort.
It is possible that the cloud providers are building these metaverse services from scratch, just as AWS, for example, built its ECS container orchestration service from scratch. Or they can leverage open source metaverse platforms, such as: Vircadiaas the foundation for metaverse-as-a-service offerings – in a way very similar to what they have done with Kubernetes†
Metaverse Will Increase Demand for Hybrid Cloud
One of the biggest technical challenges that can arise as the metaverse expands is to ensure that bandwidth limitations or interruptions to Internet connectivity do not interfere with users’ ability to experience the metaverse seamlessly.
Another challenge can be securing personal data that users store or create within the metaverse. While it remains to be seen how regulators will define or treat personal information in the metaverse, there is already one good reason to believe that it should be protected in the same way that personally identifiable information is protected in a conventional cloud environment.
Both challenges – the need for better performance and the need for high data security – are likely to result in the demand for hybrid cloud architectures as a means of hosting metaverse environments. Hybrid cloud can improve performance and availability by moving hosting resources closer to end users. It can also improve data security by allowing data to remain on private servers rather than exposing it to the public cloud.
Then expect at least some metaverse entities to be hosted in hybrid cloud environments.
Metaverse Adds New Importance to Edge Computing
Another way to improve performance and availability for the metaverse is to push metaverse hosting and analytics to the ‘edge’. In other words, users’ own devices — rather than cloud data centers and servers — will be responsible for running at least some of the software that powers the metaverse. That approach enables organizations to circumvent performance issues associated with relying on the Internet as the sole means of delivering metaverse connectivity.
So expect edge computing – however you define it — to become even more important thanks to the metaverse. As we expand, we will likely see more investment in edge computing management platforms, like Kubernetesthat helps businesses keep up with the distributed edge infrastructure that hosts their metaverse environments.
Again, it’s too early to say definitively how the metaverse will reshape cloud computing. But if I had to bet early, it would be about increasing use of the cloud in general, and of hybrid and edge cloud architectures in particular. I also think we’ll see cloud providers start building their own metaverse-as-a-service offerings, and there may be an opening for alternative cloud providers to serve the metaverse market in a way that the big public clouds won’t. to do.