Cloud Computing: A Revolutionary Evolution

The Evolution

The term ‘Cloud Computing’ was first used in 1997 by an information system’s professor named Ramnath Chellappa; but in essence, the concept of cloud computing has been around for decades. Cloud computing as a concept, dates back to the 1950s, when mainframe computers were made available to corporations and schools. The mainframe’s mammoth hardware infrastructure acted as a centralized computing platform that multiple end users could access via ‘dumb terminals’. Mainframes were expensive and corporations couldn’t afford one for each user; the solution was using a centralized mainframe as the source of all the computing power, storage systems, and memory. Sounds familiar?

The next stage in this grand evolution occurred in the 1970s, when IBM released an operating system called VM that enabled system administrators to run multiple virtual systems, or ‘Virtual Machines’ on one physical node. This allowed multiple distinct compute environments to co-exist within a singular environment; and by extension allowed multiple users to share the overall system, but each user had access to their own memory allocation, storage, computing power, and applications. Till this day, virtualization remains a core part of cloud computing. For more information on virtualization, check out Where Virtualization and Cloud Computing Intertwine.

The cost of personal computers reduced during the 80s (launch of IBM PC in 1981) as the number of people who wanted access to more powerful applications increased, mainframe computing became less effective. Mainframe computers were now being replaced with multiple cheaper PCs; each with enough computing power to run applications and store data. Since each computer ran independently, they could not coordinate well with each other; file sharing was a challenge. The solution: Distributed computing.

What is considered by many as Cloud Computing’s first major milestone occurred in the late 90’s; when Salesforce.com pioneered the idea of remotely providing enterprise applications via a simple website. This paved the way for both mainstream and specialist software firms to deliver applications over the internet. The next pivotal moment for cloud computing would occur in 2002, when Amazon.com launched AWS (Amazon Web Services), a suite of could-based services that offered business functionality, computing resources, and remotely provisioned storage.

The growing availability and reduced cost of accessing the internet coupled with the reducing cost of computers and other internet enable devices, has led to the increased use of web based applications. With the demand for data and application access through multiple devices on the rise, the future of cloud computing seems promising; at an application, platform, and infrastructure level.

The Revolution

While the debate of whether cloud computing is an evolution or a revolution continues, experts seem to agree on one thing that the cloud is transforming today’s computing landscape. Cloud computing as we know it today can be attributed to a chain of innovations; each of which was considered revolutionary in their time. Despite the fact that the concept of cloud computing is not new, the effects it has on computing has never been seen before. The power and potential of cloud computing has never been clearer.

At the helm of its revolutionary impact is the realization that cloud computing is the ultimate democratizing force. It has facilitated a seismic shift in terms of business development by bringing vast computing resources to even the smallest of businesses. Initially, entrepreneurs who hoped of starting a business had to deal with sad reality of investing significant capital into software and hardware licenses. The cloud has caused a massive shift in the availability of computing power by making it possible for entrepreneurs to easily set themselves up with infrastructure and applications upon which to run their enterprises.

While the cloud has forever changed computing on a consumer and enterprise level, there are still issues surrounding it, thus affecting its adoption rate, particularly amongst businesses. In order to ensure both consumers and enterprises are experiencing the full potential of the cloud, cloud computing has further evolved into public clouds, hybrid clouds, and private clouds. The hybrid and private cloud models are specifically tailored for enterprise adoption.

As with the other cloud models, private clouds offer computing power and software as a service through infrastructure that resides on-premise. Not only is a private cloud more secure, but it also offers greater privacy and control; this makes it the ideal choice for enterprise adoption. The hybrid cloud integrates both public and private cloud models to perform distinct functions within a single organization. For more information on the difference between public, hybrid, and private clouds, check out:  Public vs. Private Cloud Computing Basics.

The effects cloud computing has had on file sharing and sync cannot be ignored. The cloud has enabled data to be accessible anytime and anywhere; inadvertently leading to the establishment of new trends like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). As the general population becomes more internet-literate, consumers, especially digital natives, are using technology to integrate and manage their business and personal lives. The increasing number of digital services and devices all merge to from the cloud; an integrated resource for sharing, preserving, organizing, and orchestrating information.

Conclusion

The speedy evolution of the cloud raises expectations for immediate, universal access, and unlimited scale of technology resources as it continues to revolutionize tech industry markets by seamlessly embedding IT into business.

Author: Gabriel Lando