Cloud computing has been hailed as the next step in Internet service provision. Better yet, it is an enhancement of service provision full stop. The mass proliferation of Internet-connected devices, including those in the mobile space, has led to a boom in companies offering an easy way to access their particular service via client devices.
Then there are cloud computing solutions specialists, such as TSG who can introduce a full cloud-based system to both public and private businesses with ease. What’s more, the reveal of the new video games console, the Xbox One, has led to Microsoft claiming to IGN that cloud computing will enable the machine to be improved over time.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the history behind the concepts.
How cloud computing and the Internet go hand-in-hand
The Internet has lent itself to the cloud metaphor, and that’s likely to be the origin of the term ‘cloud computing’. Like clouds, the Internet is all-pervading and ever-present, and, like clouds, it can either push a service to you – like rain – or you can take a trip in to the clouds themselves (via your browser).
A trip through the history of cloud computing then is effectively a trip through the history of the Internet itself. As far back as the 1950s, academic and military institutions began deploying a thin client/mainframe model of computing, using basic clients to access shared resources stored in the mainframe.
In 1966, Douglas Parkhill released a book called The Challenge of the Computer Utility, which, though highly academic, established the basic principles behind cloud computing that prevail to this very day. If you have some time on your hands, the publication is available to buy at Amazon, but the concepts covered included elastic resource provision (the on-the-fly management of network, storage and computation resources) and the many-to-one ratio behind client-mainframe connections (which nowadays forms the basis of what is known as cloud hosting).
The fall and rise of cloud computing
Early challenges faced by cloud computing mostly revolved around high hardware costs. While academic and military institutions, funded by governments, could afford to purchase expensive mainframes, individual corporations struggled to find the capital to invest in the new technology. Among those that successfully took the steps to mainframe/client provisioning in the infancy of cloud computing though was IBM, through its subsidiary The Service Bureau Corporation.
However, as prices fell and cloud infrastructures became more powerful – mostly due to advances in the field of transistor and chip manufacturing – cloud services became a staple for Virtual Private Network (VPN) provision in larger corporations. The rise of consumer engagement with the Internet throughout the late nineties and early part of the new millennium led to services such as Amazon’s Web Service being honed and refined for access from a wide variety of locations.
This opened up cloud systems to attacks from remote clients though, so security was a major focus between 2000 and 2005. It still remains so today, although significant advances in encryption technologies have made it a secondary concern.
Then 2008 saw the release of Eucalyptus – an open-source, Amazon Web Service-compatible way of setting up cloud services rapidly and solidly. Quality of Service became the real focus, as user engagement with cloud services rapidly expanded. Companies began to focus on ensuring that cloud services were fast, and felt local. Today, for example, a company can seek the assistance of TSG to set up a cloud computing strategy that is reliable, always available, high performing and has standout security parameters in place without any hassle.
[Read also: Tips for Safely Using the Cloud]
What lies ahead for cloud computing?
So this is where we stand now, but the future certainly looks bright for cloud computing.
The new Xbox One console, for instance, could potentially use the cloud to delegate gameplay processes directly to its own servers. The intriguing gadget’s director of development, Boyd Multerer, mused: “We have an ever-evolving, powerful world [in the cloud] that we can tap into. This is not going to be as static a console as we’ve seen in the past.“
It’s an exciting time then and evidence that academic study – intellectual investment – in a variety of fields can yield serious long-term returns.