A Brief History of Cloud Computing

A Brief History of Cloud Computing

I have been talking about cloud computing for quite a while now, about what it is, about trends, about what can it do and why it should be adopted and I would like now to talk about how it has evolved.

Once upon a time, well, mid twentieth century, the Internet started to take shape. And on paper, in diagrams and presentation it was usually shaped like a cloud, probably because it was out there somewhere, an unknown fuzzy entity which brought some services to our computers. At around the same time, in 1961, John McCarthy suggested in a speech at MIT that computing can be sold like a utility, like electricity or water. It looked like a brilliant idea, but like all brilliant ideas, it was ahead if its time, as for the next few decades, despite interest in the model, the technology simply was not ready for it.

Of course time has passed and the technology caught up with the ideas and there are a few milestones we have to mention:

  • In 1999 Salesforce started delivering applications to users using a simple website. The applications were delivered to enterprises over the Internet, and this way the dream of computing sold as utility started being reality. Although the service was successful, some more time would pass until it would become widespread.
  • In 2002 Amazon started Amazon Web Services, providing services like storage, computation and even human intelligence. However, only starting with the launch of the Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006 a truly commercial service open to everybody existed.
  • 2009 marked a key turning point in the evolution of cloud computing, with the arrival of browser based cloud enterprise applications, with the best known being Google Apps.

Of course, all the big players are present in the cloud computing evolution, some earlier, some later. In 2009 Microsoft launched Windows Azure, and companies like Oracle and HP have all joined the game. This proves that today, cloud computing has become mainstream.

And from here, the only way is up for cloud computing. The shift is towards customized services and managed private and hybrid clouds, shared public clouds offering Infrastructure as a service in high availability and secure environments. This way, the dream of a world where everyone can access the applications they need, how they need them, when they need them is becoming reality. And there is really no turning back. After all, once we had electricity nobody went back to using gas lamps.

By Rick Blaisdell

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