The Complete History of Cloud Computing

May 23, 2022 | Cloud

The Complete History of Cloud Computing

Cloud storage has been a buzzword for the last few years. Data storage, online tools, and even gaming are moving to the cloud. Experts say that by 2025 half of all the information in the world will be stored in the cloud.  

But cloud computing has a long and interesting history spanning more than six decades. We think a deeper look into cloud computing will help you understand why it’s growing and why it might be a solution for your company.

But before we start, just a quick reminder on what is cloud computing and why it’s so popular.

What Is Cloud Computing?

To put it simply, the so-called “cloud” is simply a server that can be accessed over the internet. These servers are stationed in data centers all over the world. Each time you create a Google doc or upload a file to Dropbox it ends up in the cloud.

There are different types of clouds: 

  • Public cloud may be accessed by multiple users 
  • Private cloud is dedicated to a single organization
  • Hybrid cloud is a mix of private and public

The main reasons for cloud computing’s popularity are simple: it’s convenient and less expensive than maintaining an internal data center. 

Companies don’t have to keep these servers on their premises and spend tons of cash on maintaining them. When you store backups in the cloud it adds an additional layer of data loss protection.

And here is how this industry started.

How Cloud Computing Was Born

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the pioneers of computer science such as Professor John McCarthy (by the way, he also coined the term “Artificial Intelligence”) started envisioning a new interconnected world.

They saw computing as a service “organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility”. In 1961, it sounded like a far-fetched idea. However, it’s existence began in the same decade. 

Computer time-sharing was the key. In the times when a mainframe could cost over $1 million, it was natural to look for ways for allowing several users to use the computer simultaneously. And scientists made it happen soon enough.

Here is a short video of one of the Internet creators Les Earnest describing how time-sharing systems paved the way to cloud computing.

The Beginning of the Cloud Computing Era

Virtualization was the next big thing. A virtual machine is basically a digital copy of a physical computer. It can run operating systems and other programs using virtual devices to perform computing tasks.

It became widespread when IBM released its VM operating system that allowed multiple users to work on a single mainframe with shared computing power.

Virtual machines offered their users portability, manageability, and security – all of those were in high demand among companies.

Cloud Computing Rises

In the 1990s companies started using virtual private networks to make internal data sharing easier and more convenient. The industry started growing rapidly, and the cloud became a reality.

The term “Cloud Computing” dates to 1996 – it was used to describe the future of the Internet. And the future was right around the corner – in 1999 Salesforce was among the pioneers of SaaS, Software as a Service. They created a website where clients could use their application right in the cloud. This was revolutionary at the time. 

Modern Cloud Computing

The real boom of cloud computing started in the 2000s when internet service giants created solutions such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. 

Cloud infrastructure developed rapidly, as well as communications tech. With the Internet available to over 5 billion people, migrating to the cloud became a natural choice for both businesses and individuals. 

COVID-19 and Cloud Computing

The COVID-19 outbreak also contributed to the cloud boom. Many companies had to shift to remote work, and switching to the cloud became a requirement, not an option.

There are different types of cloud services provided today. Here are some of them:

  • SaaS, Software as a Service, allows users to run applications on a website instead of installing it on their device. Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft 365, and Salesforce are examples of SaaS.
  • PaaS, Platform as a Service offers developers a cloud platform to build their software using the provider’s computing power and tools.
  • IaaS, Infrastructure as a Service, is basically a development of the virtual machine concept. IaaS providers offer virtual working places to companies that don’t want to build and manage their own data centers.

Are You in The Cloud?

Does your company use the power of cloud computing? If not, then reach out to Brightworks Group to find out how migrating to the cloud can benefit your business.