The History of Cloud Computing
The term "cloud" is used as a representation of the Internet and other communications systems as well as an abstraction of the underlying infrastructures involved.
What we now commonly refer to as cloud computing is the result of an evolution of the widespread adoption of virtualization, service-oriented architecture, autonomic, and utility computing. Details such as the location of infrastructure or component devices are unknowns to most end-users, who no longer need to thoroughly understand or control the technology infrastructure that supports their computing activities. Following is a brief history of this evolution:
Historically, telecommunications companies primarily offered only dedicated, point-to-point data circuits to their users. Beginning in the 1990s, however, they began expanding their offerings to include virtual private network services. This allowed the telcom companies to provide the same quality of service at a fraction of the cost, as they were able to optimize resource utilization in order to improve the efficiency of their overall bandwidth.
In these earliest stages, the term “cloud” was used to represent the computing space between the provider and the end user. In 1997, Professor Ramnath Chellapa of Emory University and the University of South California defined cloud computing as the new “computing paradigm where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale rather than technical limits alone.” This has become the basis of what we refer to today when we discuss the concept of cloud computing.
During the second half of the 1990s, companies began to gain a better understanding of cloud computing and its usefulness in providing superior solutions and services to customers while drastically improving internal efficiencies. In 1999, Salesforce.com became one of the first major movers in the cloud arena, pioneering the concept of delivering enterprise-level applications to end users via the Internet. The application could be accessed by any customer with Internet access and companies were able to purchase the service on a cost-effective on-demand basis.
Shortly after Salesforce.com brought this new concept to the world’s attention, Amazon.com proved it could outlast the dot-com bubble burst with the introduction of its web-based retail services in 2002. Amazon was the first major organization to modernize its data centers, which were utilizing only about 10% of their capacity at any given time (which was commonplace at the time, because companies were worried about sudden spikes in capacity needs). Amazon realized that the new cloud computing infrastructure model could allow them to use their existing capacity with much greater efficiency.
Meanwhile, Google had become a key player in the Internet commerce marketplace. In 2006 the company launched its Google Docs services, which brought the power of cloud computing and document sharing directly to end users.