Cloud computing is continuing to gain momentum, especially in business. This is the result of several factors, including advancement in computer hardware technology, advancement in communication and networking technology and adaptive software development technologies. But contrary to popular belief, while cloud computing has more recently gained momentum, the cloud isn’t really a new concept. It was actually developed in the early 1950’s. Its evolution and widespread application, however, is a much more significant in todays’ technological world.
In this article, we will look at where cloud computing originated, where is today and where it is going in the future.
The Origin of Cloud Computing
In the 1950’s cloud computing revolved around having a mainframe computer with several dumb terminals used to access it. This was due to the fact that the mainframe computer was so huge that it usually occupied an entire room and thus it became impractical for direct usage. Dumb terminals started being used in 1950’s as a way of remotely tapping resources of the mainframe computer. Dumb terminals were computers that did not have the processing function; they only had a monitor, keyboard and a cable to connect to the mainframe computer. The cluster architecture formed by several dumb terminals around a mainframe computer took the form of a cloud when drawn and thus, the term cloud computing was derived.
How Cloud Computing Has Evolved
With the advancement in computer electronics, both the mainframe computer and dumb terminals evolved. The mainframe computers evolved into servers while dumb terminals evolved into smart terminals. Smart terminals are the modern desktop computers. Software development companies considered it a key advantage to develop software that would enable these smart terminals to function effectively on their own.
In the 1970’s,IBM introduced the novel idea of virtual machines via an operating system known as VM OS, which allowed multiple computer environments to exist within the same physical environment. This marked the beginning of virtualization, the bedrock of modern cloud computing.
Beyond virtualization, the spread of internet technology propelled the explosion of cloud computing. Over the last decade, Cloud computing has been growing rapidly. It has indeed become a competitive advantage for any serious software development company to develop software that can be offered as a service over the cloud.
Amongst the first set of services to be introduced over the cloud were hosting services whereby web owners could lease storage space on servers for the websites from hosting companies for a fee. This led to the emergence of Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) as a form of cloud computing, being championed by IBM and other companies. At the same time companies such as Netscape started offering mail software service over the internet known as email. This indeed became one of the earliest forms of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Other companies such as Yahoo followed suit. In 2000, Salesforce pioneered a service where individuals and companies could “hire” a platform and install their own software on it. This service came to known as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Amazon followed suit by introducing Amazon Web Services (AWS) which included storage, computations and human intelligence (through the service known as Mechanical Turks). Later, in 2006, Amazon introduced Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which advanced PaaS by integrating it with more services and resources. It went beyond being simply a platform but became a whole infrastructure. This led to the emergence of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) which was perfected through Amazon’s introduction of EC2/S3. In 2009, Google entered the IaaSmarket by introducing Google Apps and later, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Cloud with a multitude of apps. More providers of cloud services have come on board and services continue to be enriched, integrated and more advanced than ever.
Current State of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has continued to evolve andgarnertrust. More and more people and enterprises are using cloud to satisfy their technological needs. This is because it has continued to become more secure and in many cases, even more secure than traditional on-premise systems. It has also become much more economical in the sense that users of cloud computing pay for what they consume and there is therefore hardly any wastage due to idle capacity. The short time required to access the service, lack of complications associated with handling technical requirements and savings on capital outlay (that traditionally would have gone to purchasing sophisticated hardware)makes the cloud compelling.
The Future of Cloud Computing
Judging by current momentum, the future of cloud computing looks brighter than ever. The emergence of smartphones and tablets has propelled this growth. This is due to the fact that both smartphones and tablets are running with apps that reside in the cloud and thus, lesser need for installing software on the local drive. Intel estimates that by 2015 over 2.5 billion people with over 10 billion devices will access public cloud via the internet – which is 100% more than the current demand.
Services offered over the cloud have increased, deepened and continue to become more and more affordable as the benefits of economies of scale gather momentum due to the increasingly large number of people and enterprises switching over to cloud computing. Cloud computing has come of age. It represents a paradigm shift in the way we utilize our computing resources and will certainly impact both the business world (as it has already started to do) and our personal lives.