History of Cloud Computing: The Past, Present and Future



Published04 June 2020at09:50, updated on19 July 2022at17:12

History of Cloud Computing: The Past, Present and Future cover

Discover the history of cloud computing. Cloud’s current momentum can often make younger generations believe this technology is a thing of the 21st century. In fact, sharing computing resources is an idea that dates back to the 1950s, when the same mainframe computers were accessed by all company employees via locally connected dumb terminals.

But it was not until 1969 that computer scientists lead by J.C.R. Licklider premiered ARPANET, the world’s first network connecting computers across vast distances. The system enabled communication and time-sharing of computing resources between different educational and military institutions. It later evolved into a network of networks — The Internet.

Licklider had a vision: an ‘intergalactic computer network’ that, beyond keeping everyone connected, would allow us to access data and applications regardless of location. More than half a century later, his vision is closer than ever to becoming a reality. About 59% of the global population has now access to the Internet, while cloud computing has gone from buzzword to the lifeblood of today’s enterprise.

The technology has indeed proved itself indispensable to digital transformation – cloud has been a decisive factor in the business world’s ability to withstand the COVID-19 crisis, supporting the sudden shift to remote work and helping companies quickly deploy and scale up IT infrastructure.   

But what is the history of cloud computing ? Where exactly is the cloud right now, and where is it headed?

History of cloud computing: The various pathways to cloud

Current cloud offerings vary depending on how they approach data storage and application management. Also, there are three types of deployments: public, private and hybrid.

Public cloud offerings lease cloud infrastructure and solutions to multiple customers who all share the same network, with every customer’s data siloed from the rest. On the other hand, private cloud is used by a single organisation, whether the user owns it or leases it from a provider.

Then, private clouds tend to be tailor-made to the meet needs of the specific company.

Finally, the hybrid cloud combines both approaches. Companies pursue the hybrid approach for its versatility, which allows them to mix and match resources and IT skills to obtain the best of both worlds.

A new global study by data virtualisation company Denodo identifies hybrid cloud as the most widespread deployment path.

Hybrid configurations account for 42% of all deployments. Public cloud takes second place with an 18% share – head-to-head with private cloud, which accounts for 17% of enterprise configurations.

Two-thirds of respondents (66%) use the cloud for analytics and business intelligence, while 42% of companies leverage the technology for logical data warehousing. Data science is the focus of 41% of respondents. 

Everything as a Service

Public cloud offerings have evolved well beyond data management and storage. They now focus on providing different services and can be further classified depending on the nature of these services. The most widespread are:

  • Software as a service (SaaS) solutions, which involve providers offering customers online access to applications they host
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, in which a third-party vendor provides hardware and software tools for companies to build applications, etc.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions, which comprise all those services involving the lease of virtualized computing resources like storage

The multi-cloud

Similarly with hybrid cloud, combining a variety of cloud services from different providers can help companies achieve the cloud ecosystem that best fits their needs. This strategy is known as multi-cloud.

 The multi-cloud approach is rapidly gaining popularity among businesses, especially the bigger ones, and it is projected to soon become the industry standard. However, the use of different architectures and software among cloud providers can lead to cybersecurity, compatibility and operational issues. So that, cloud users are currently pushing for industry-wide standardisation to tackle this problem.

What’s next for the history and future of cloud computing

With at least 50% of the world’s business already circulating through the cloud, the technology’s role in the enterprise will only keep on growing. Furthermore, it’s convergence with emerging technologies like IoT and AI is opening a whole new realm of possibilities.

Chief amongst these is cloud edge. The approach combines edge computing – the processing and storage of IoT data closer to the device – and cloud to reduce latency, increase security and allow for greater flexibility. This is made possible by not having to send all data collected to a distant data centre for processing, but rather processing it on-site and only sharing the resulting insights.  

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