The concept of cloud computing has been evolving throughout these years. In simpler terms, cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data and programs on remote servers hosted on the internet instead of a computer’s hard drive or local server. This doesn’t mean that no physical servers are involved. Because these data and programs still have to be stored in a physical server. Cloud computing can also be considered as an abstract re-invention of a traditional on-premise data centre. Data is still stored in a physical data centre, it’s just that the data centre is usually located far from the user’s end and is usually managed by the cloud computing service provider, rather than your in-house IT team. The cloud computing service provider also usually serves multiple clients as well.
The main reason why cloud computing is gaining so much focus and attention, especially in the recent decade, is because of the wide range of benefits that it can bring for businesses. With the help of cloud computing providers to manage the complex IT infrastructure part of the house, businesses can now focus on their own business operations, while enjoying the flexibility to grow and scale back according to market demands.
It seems almost inevitable that cloud computing will become the new norm for most, if not all, digitalised businesses. And it would be wise for you to start learning and understanding more about cloud computing, so that you remain relevant and competitive. If you haven’t had the opportunity to learn more about its origins, its development over the years, and its possibilities in the near future, take a read on this article as we give a brief introduction on the history and future of cloud computing.
Early Years – 1950s to the 1980s
In its early years, the “cloud” was used to express space between the provider and the end user.
The concept of data computing dates back to the 1950’s or 1960’s but the history of where the idea originated sparks debates. While others cite J.C.R. Licklider and his idea of an “Intergalactic Computer Network” and John McCarthy who is the figure behind Artificial Intelligence as the sources, others cite Apple engineers Bill Atkinson and Andy Hertfeld in 1990 with their company General Magic as the original sources.
When IBM launched its virtual machines (VM) around the 1970’s, the concept of cloud computing further materialised. For better understanding, IBM’s virtual machines are software computers that run software and an operating system like a physical computer that we have today. VMs are made up of configuration files and a set of specifications and are backed by the physical resources of a host. They have the same functionality as physical hardware, or servers as we know it today. So, the introduction of the VMs meant that users were able to own machines running on hardware being managed and maintained by other people. This was one of the major breakthroughs that contributed to the concept of cloud computing.
In the 1980’s a lot of industries were looking for ways to connect their computers in-house so as to have access to each other’s data. Then in the 1990’s, with the shift in telecommunications made from point-to-point data connections to Virtual Private Networks (VPN), companies’ wish for in-house enterprise-wide computers connection came true. This was also the era where the “World Wide Web” aka the internet was invented. Fun Fact: Computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn are credited as the inventors of the internet, as they were the ones who invented the Internet communication protocols that we use today.
Cloud Technology Boom – The Late 1990’s
When companies began using the internet and started understanding the cloud, its services, and its usefulness, it gained a lot of popularity. In 1997, a Professor Ramnath Chellapa from Emory University put forth his definition of cloud computing where he said, “it is a computing paradigm, where the boundaries of computing will not be determined by technical limits alone but also economic rationale”. This description rings true when describing the state of the cloud computing deployments today.
The increase in demand and decrease in pricings in the late 1990s gave cloud computing a great push too. In 1999, Salesforce.com became one of the first pioneers of cloud computing services. They delivered enterprise applications via a simple website. They wanted to champion the idea of using the internet to deliver software programs to end users. Businesses could access the software/ program without leaving the office and there were no limitations on who could access the software. And within years, many companies saw themselves moving from hardware to cloud services because of the benefits that cloud computing offered such as, but not limited to, easing IT staffing issues, cost effectiveness, flexibility etc.
Present Day Status – The Early 2000’s To Present
The early 2000’s saw major companies entering the scene. Amazon was one of these companies. In 2002, it launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) with the intention to offer web-based retail services and to open their platform to all developers. It was so well-received that by 2004, there already more than 100 applications built on top of it. Later in 2006, Amazon launched more service features, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk which provides cloud services such as storage, computation, and human intelligence. Another one of Amazon’s service features is the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which rents out virtual computers to individuals.
In the same year of 2006, Google entered the scene by launching Google Spreadsheets and Google Docs (originally known as Writely). Google acquired Google Spreadsheets from 2Web Technologies in the year 2005. The program is cloud-based and allows users to develop, update, and edit spreadsheets, as well as share the data online. It is also compatible with Microsoft Excel. Then-Writely (Now known as Google Docs) is a product which allows users to edit and transfer documents directly into blogging systems. This presentation also made the concept of Software-as-a-service cloud computing service model popular and more familiar to the masses, as workplaces and schools quickly got used to and massively implemented these tools.
A year after Google entered the scene, in 2007, IBM joined forces with universities to develop a server farm for research projects. The server needed huge data sets and processors. The University of Washington was among the first to use IBM and Google’s resources. The likes of MIT, University of Maryland etc. also followed suit. This was a significant turning point because now, these institutions realised that IBM and Google’s support meant low costs and faster experiments for their researchers.
In 2008 NASA provided the first open-source software for deploying private and hybrid clouds called OpenNebula. Most of its innovative features focused on addressing the needs of large businesses. In the same year, many private clouds were initiated. However, they were not popular and still underdeveloped. Security concerns over the use of public cloud services were the driving force behind businesses opting for private cloud services. AWS and Microsoft were still amongst the leading companies in the development and provision of private cloud services.
From 2011 to 2014, further developments in cloud computing happened. One being the introduction of the concept of the hybrid cloud, which meant that businesses could house data, in both private and public cloud services. In the same period, cloud computing security also advanced significantly. This included protection of data from accidental deletion, leakage, and theft. A lot of other major service providers that we know today, such as Oracle, CloudBolt etc., also made their way into the sector during this period.
Cloud computing is powerful and expansive. Recent trends have shown that cloud computing is more scalable and friendlier than before. Businesses have more control over their data since the cloud is now more organised. What this means is improved overall efficiency in how data is processed. With these major strides, it’s safe to make predictions on the future of the cloud.
With more and more devices being connected to the internet, the future of cloud computing is bright. The cloud market value was pegged at USD$128 billion in 2018. It is estimated that it will reach a market value of USD$482 billion in 2022. Undeniably, the market is huge and still growing. One key factor that will drive further growth of cloud computing is explosive growth of data. According to Statista’s report on global data usage, the total amount of data used globally (including data which were created, captured, copied, and consumed) is estimated to grow to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025.To put things into perspective, 1 zettabyte (ZB) is equivalent to 1 billion terabytes (TB) or a trillion gigabytes (GB). A typical 1-2h long movie file is approximately 1-2GB in size. So, 180ZB would mean approximately 100-trillion-movies-equivalent amount of data! That’s how massive and explosive the growth of data usage will be! And it is unlikely that this growth will slow down anytime soon and will continue to grow massively as years go by. This means users will want a way to store this data securely yet still be able to access it efficiently, and hence, a huge potential for further growth in the cloud computing industry as well.
In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has also accelerated use of the internet for eCommerce and remote working. The world has seen a huge shift from traditional working formats to remote working formats. Big enterprises such as Fortune 500 companies have started hopping onto the bandwagon of cloud computing users as a way of embracing the new norm of remote working. Evidently, businesses need to be thinking of adopting cloud computing services to ensure their businesses keep running even in tough times.
To whoever deserves credit, cloud computing has become an integral part of the technologically advanced world that we live in today, and we really have to thank the forefathers of this industry for that. We’ve witnessed massive expansion in the cloud computing sector and a good number of service providers have made their way into the industry. We’ve also witnessed the birth of private, public, as well as hybrid cloud computing services. These changes and improvements will continue especially because data will also continue to grow creating high demand for manageable storage space.
Businesses need to understand and accept that cloud computing is here to stay, and they must leverage this technology and grow with it. Cloud computing is both powerful and inspiring. In the long run, it proves to be a cost-effective way of executing services for both big and small businesses. The idea of having only traditional on-premise server rooms or data centres seemed to have already embarked on an inevitable course that will slowly fade into oblivion.
Organisations and business owners should take it upon themselves to familiarise themselves with the latest developments taking place in Cloud technology. Most importantly, organisations should engage a trusted consultant that can provide expertise in the utilisation of these cloud computing services.
If your company needs to adopt Cloud Computing solutions right now, you can start to look for a trusted network service provider to assist you with the transition; and that is exactly what the professionals at Vallous can do for you, just as we have done so for companies big and small, local and overseas over the past years!
At Vallous, our team of IT professionals will be able to assess and prescribe suitable hybrid cloud solutions that cater to your business IT operations needs. We offer enterprise-grade data services that you can rely on to transit your data-centric business from a traditional on-premise data centres model to a hybrid cloud model, or even a full-on cloud computing model.
We are dedicated to assisting our clients in storing and protecting their data, and in keeping your enterprise network ecosystem operating at its best capacity, fuelling growth, and eliminating downtime, so your business can be a beneficiary, rather than a victim, of the digital ecosystem. We understood and foretold early on the importance and significance of adopting cloud computing and have expanded our cloud data services product line by working together with the world’s biggest cloud computing providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Huawei Cloud, as our partners to enable our clients with cloud capabilities.
To learn more about how to successfully implement hybrid cloud, contact our in-house professionals at www.vallous.com