The history of software architectures is a history of the ebb and flow of centralization and distribution. Centralization requires good network connections while promising simplicity, homogeneity, and ease of management. Distribution offers robustness and potentially unbounded scalability, but has high demands on design, especially in terms of security.
Currently, the discussion is on sensor devices and the Cloud. Sensors measure the environment, people, movement, temperature, any of a million potential attributes of the world around us.