Cloud computing has transformed the IT landscape in recent years, so maybe it’s hard to believe that the concept has in fact been around for some time.

 

Solving a range of issues, including increasing operational agility, enhancing flexibility and scaling bandwidth up and down with ease – cloud is an essential for any successful enterprise.

 

Here, we take a brief look at the cloud’s history and how it has transformed computing.

 

Defining cloud

 

The term ‘cloud’ came about when early network schematics showed overlapping server icons that resembled the billows of clouds.

 

IBM defines cloud computing as, “…the delivery of on-demand computing resources — everything from applications to data centres — over the internet on a pay-for-use basis.”

 

Timeline

 

1950s – the beginning

 

Cloud computing started with the idea of ‘time sharing’, around 1955. Computers back then were huge and very expensive and therefore not every company had one. Instead, businesses would rent the right to use the computer’s computational power and share the cost of running. This is the basic concept of cloud computing.

 

1960s – ARPANET

 

American psychologist and computer scientist J.C.R Licklider developed ARPANET – the predecessor to the modern internet. Licklider’s vision was for everyone across the globe to be interconnected, and be able to access programs and data at any site, from anywhere.

 

The idea of ‘service bureaus’ also emerged in the 60s, which allowed users to share computers. Users would have their own terminals that ran hosted applications and there was a protocol that would send information from the service bureau to the remote terminal and take requests from that terminal and send it back to the service bureau, which would then be routed to the right application.

In the period from the launch of the IBM PC in 1981 to 1984 the percentage of companies using PCs increased radically from 8% to 100%

1970s – VM

 

Many people are familiar with the term ‘VM’, known as virtual machines, but it was in the 1970s that it actually came to fruition through IBM. VMs took the time-share model to the next level and allowed multiple computing environments to be contained in one physical environment. This was a key development in cloud computing.

 

1980s – the dip

 

The 1980s was the birth of the ‘mini computer’ – now anybody could own one.

 

At this point, shared computing dropped in popularity, because everybody could now have their own PC in their own home. In the period from the launch of the IBM PC in 1981 to 1984 the percentage of companies using PCs increased radically from 8% to 100%.

 

90s – VPNs

 

As more employees work more time from home, a virtual private network (VPN) is essential, and it was in the 1990s that these became available through several telecommunications companies. This allowed more users to have shared access to the same physical infrastructure. It also allowed traffic to be shifted as necessary to allow for better network balance.

 

The cloud symbol began to be used and denoted the demarcation point between what the provider was responsible for and what users were responsible for.

 

The enormous growth of computer popularity during the 90s created a need to further develop large scale computing; this paved the way for the cloud in the 2000s.

 

00s to now

 

In 2006, Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) providing cloud services from storage to computation. Soon later major tech players followed suit, including Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine.

 

In the consumer world, Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive have all gained in popularity and are a common way of storing back-ups of photos, documents, and more.

 

A cloud covering

 

Although some consumers may not be 100% sure as to what the cloud is, the likelihood is that most of them will be using at least one cloud-based service. In businesses and organisations, the numbers using cloud services is even larger.

 

By 2020, it is predicted that the cloud computing market will exceed £182 billion ($241 billion). As the market continues to grow and provide cost-savings and better IT prospects for businesses, make sure you don’t get left behind in history.

 

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