Several years ago if you wished to store and manage data your primary option would be to do so on your local computer or via a local server. However, cloud computing changed all of that. Over the past few years, many businesses have been turning to this solution, irrespective of their size or what industry they operate in.
So, what is cloud computing? In the most basic terms, this is storing, managing, accessing and processing your data and programs over the Internet. Essentially, ‘cloud’ is a metaphor for the Internet. For your solution to be considered a cloud one it must require you to access your programs or data over the Internet. It is not about your hard drive or having a dedicated hardware server in residence.
In this post, we will take a look at the past, the present and the future of cloud computing, as well as some of the key benefits associated with it. So, keep on reading to find out more…
Back when it all started…
The very concept of cloud computing can actually be dated as far back as the 1950s. This is when the future of computers was predicted to be the bigger scale mainframe computers. A practice was introduced to make more efficient use of these costly mainframes.
This practice was the ability of several different users to share access to the computer. This was both in relation to physical access from multiple terminals, as well as the CPU time. Of course, this is entirely different from the cloud computing we see today, yet it was where the underlying concept first began.
The next pivotal progress came in 1966 when Douglass Parkhill released a book entitled ‘The Challenge of the Computer Utility’. Why was this book significant? Well, it actually defines virtually all of the current day characteristics of cloud computing.
This includes the likes of the illusion of infinite supply, the online nature, the fact that it is provided as a utility, and the elastic provision. Nonetheless, we first began to see these theories put into practice in the 1990s.
This date marked when virtual private networks (VPNs) were first offered by telecommunications companies. This allowed them to use overall network bandwidth much more effectively.
What about cloud computing as we know it today?
However, it was not until early 2008 that cloud computing, as we know it today, started to surface. Nonetheless, during this period the market disagreed when it came to understanding cloud.
Mark Minasi, a Windows expert, said: “Even if someone builds the Cadillac of cloud services, they will be out of business within a year.” Whilst the co-founder and president of Mann Consulting, Harold Mann, stated: “They (small companies) will fight (cloud) at first, then wonder why you were gouging them for so many years prior to the cloud solution.” Yet by May 2008 more and more vendors joined cloud computing, such as Google, MySpace, Cisco Systems and Microsoft.
After this, throughout the remainder of 2008 and 2009, attention shifted to emerging private clouds. This was largely born out of the security fears associated with public clouds. The first open-source platform for deploying private clouds was launched in May 2009, Eucalyptus, whilst OpenStack was launched in July 2010.
The latter is a platform that allows you to move either into the public cloud or private cloud, but first, you are promised do-it-yourself clouds in a secure, private test lab before making the move. The hybrid cloud, which companies both private and public cloud environments, was introduced in 2011.
Since then, extensive developments in quality have been made, with the likes of SugarCRM customization services and other bespoke services out there showing us just what capabilities we have when it comes to software and cloud computing today.
This should give you a good idea regarding the progression of cloud computing over the years in relation to the technology of it. But, what we really need to look at is the utilization of cloud computing.
At the present moment in time, most businesses have made the switch to cloud computing. In fact, recent statistics from Search Cloud Computing indicate that approximately 67 per cent of companies use some form of cloud computing.
Most of these are using a public cloud – 40 per cent, whilst 39 per cent use a hybrid cloud and 22 per cent use a private cloud. Hybrid clouds are likely to increase in popularity, as adopters look to benefit from the perks of a public cloud whilst ensuring they have the security and control of a private cloud.
It has taken companies a while to get on board…
Despite cloud being introduced in 2008, most companies have only made the switch over the past couple of years. Why? Well, this is because there were several barriers in the way in the past, which is generally always the case when a new product hits the market.
These hurdles included the likes of lack of trust, loss of control, the general perception and bandwidth. These barriers have now been overcome.
Virtualization and faster bandwidth are prime examples of how cloud technologies have been enhanced and are a more attractive option. Therefore, over the past several years, businesses have been making the switch. Now, as you will soon discover, the offerings in relation to cloud computing are much faster.
When choosing cloud computing, the two main factors lie within return on investment (ROI) and the suitability to the business in question. Nowadays, cloud computing will essentially pay for itself after a period of time.
This is imperative for companies, especially SMEs and start-ups. Cloud computing is the much more cost-effective solution and they show greater benefit, which is essential when you consider how thin resources are stretched at most IT departments. Nonetheless, the key to reaping these rewards to the fullest is to ensure you find a cloud solution that is suited to your type of organization.
There is one issue that will probably always of concern in relation to cloud computing and this is security. Though this concern will obviously lessen as the years pass. Nevertheless, when running something over the Internet individuals are always worried about their level of protection.
There is a general perception that cloud computing is generally less trustworthy and there is a loss of control. This is a perception that must be overcome; as for the most, it is actually not true. In many instances, you will find that there are more efficient infrastructure, firmer controls and better-built hardware with cloud solutions.
Moreover, a lot of companies do not realize that they are actually already using these types of services without considering it. Most instant and email messenger options and even torrent website forums involve the messages being sent to a third party before they are forwarded back to the organisations localised mail stream.
The future for cloud computing
So, what can we expect for the future of cloud computing, aside from integrated IT services as mentioned earlier? Well, one thing we can say for sure is that there will undoubtedly be more cloud adoption.
Most businesses have already made the switch, and those that have not will undoubtedly do so. Remember, not all will go for a full cloud service, some may elect from a partial hybrid switch.
What we will see more of is solutions being catered entirely to suit the business, to ensure maximum efficiency and return on investment. Security is an area whereby constant improvements will be made. Moreover, software-defined networking and high-performance computing could shape where cloud is going.
To conclude, hopefully you now have a better picture of the cloud computing industry. The progressions in relation to the technology of it are evident. Integrated and customised solutions are set to really grow over the coming years.
The initial quality barriers have been overcome and now it is all about catering to each unique consumer. Moreover, the benefits that are associated with a cloud computing service highlight why it is so dominant and why it will continue to be. From affordability, to centralization, to greater efficiency, to being more environmentally friendly – the reasons for choosing cloud computing are vast.