Data is everywhere and this access to information has become one of the most impactful events in modern history.
We live in the age of ubiquitous cloud computing. It offers agility, lower cost, and better access to resources on a global scale. So how did we get here?
The social benefits of cloud-based data are still being discovered as we continue to explore how our new technological era is evolving. As more and more complex applications are no longer confined to one physical location, this growth is becoming exponential. In our lifetime, we have seen the progression from floppy disc to zip drives, from CDs (and data DVDs) to USB storage drives and beyond. While Millennials may believe that the cloud belongs to their generation, the roots of non-local computing can be traced back to the early 1950s.
Originally a military mainframe which was developed in 1950 to connect computer terminals across an internal matrix, non-local storage technology advanced quickly once it hit the scientific community. This was an important consideration back at a time when computing had cost several million dollars and the need for multiple people to access the technology became a necessity.
The term “cloud computing” itself was coined in 1996 within a Compaq internal document. The term “cloud” was originally linked to the concept of distributed computing, which went mainstream at Apple-spawned General Magic in the early 1990s, with even earlier mentions in academic work before that. The concept was initially discussed by J.C.R. Licklider, the first director of Information Processing Techniques Office at the Pentagon’s ARPA division in the 1960s, according to Computerworld.
Licklider’s idea went on to revolutionise computing when, in 1969, Bob Taylor and Larry Roberts developed ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks) and, eventually, became the precursor of what we call the internet.
The decades following the 1970s saw the development of various Virtual Machines (VMs) like those created by computer giants like IBM.elecommunications followed suit and started to offer virtual private networks (VPNs) to the marketplace.
The Arrival of Software as a Service (SaaS)
By the 1990s, huge numbers of personal computers were being connected as the technology became more affordable. Until finally, in 1999, Salesforce became the first company to offer applications over the internet, heralding the arrival of Software as a Service.Three years later, the industry grew massively with video, music and other media being hosted and delivered online.he creation of UX design meant that lay people were gaining access to data previously reserved for programmers and the code literates.
The Cloud Becomes a Thing
By the mid 1990s, the term “the cloud” was being used to discuss this new digital sphere. Soon Google and Microsoft were in an arms race to build more and more market share of this virtual environment.
Suddenly, the cloud was everywhere and the expansion of PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), SaaS, and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) became a brand new industry with its offshoot, the cyber-security enterprise.
Everyone was accessing the cloud—for entertainment, healthcare, finance and government— and the gold rush to join this new sector was happening at an accelerated rate. The cloud was creating a cultural shift never seen before in the history of humanity. Great things were coming from the humblest of places as the barriers of knowledge were removed and access to information became more common and easy. Small startups were changing the world. Wealth was being created in remote locations and creativity and innovation became the domain of the individual.
On August 25, 2006, Amazon Web Services launched Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), enabling people to rent virtual computers and use their own programs and applications online; this was quickly followed by Google Docs Services. One year later, binge-watching became a thing when a small start up called Netflix launched its video streaming website.IBM jumped on the bandwagon with SmartCloud and Apple launched iCloud. Around the same time, Oracle released its own Cloud.
Two Distinct Clouds
Until recently, most people consider the cloud to be divided into two types, Public and Private.
The public cloud is defined as computing services offered by third-party providers over the public internet, making them available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them. While the alternative private cloud is designed for more concise needs, as when sensitive data needs to be stored and shared. Private clouds are essentially data centers within a controlled secure system.
Hybrid and Multi Cloud
Scality predicted a move to a more hybrid cloud model and they quickly became market leaders in this field, allowing organisations to find the flexibility and power of combined older forms of data storage, with an ability to move between private and public seamlessly and safely, thus lower costs to their customers. So when cloud computing is predicted to exceed over $241 billion this year by Forrester Research, Scality’s RING8 hybrid cloud software could become the standard for future businesses looking to optimise their performance while maintaining their TCO. Paired with RING8’s new XDM technology, Scality promises real data freedom across multiple cloud service providers from one UI.
Environmental issues may not seem so difficult to combat with the advent of the cloud, as remote work is becoming possible for many, thus reducing the pollution caused by daily commuting. Cloud is helping save more than our planet, it is also helping us with our most valuable commodity, our time. We have instant access to all knowledge, all data and all expertise which in turn allows us to save more and more lives. How we use this extra time is one of the biggest challenges to our health.
It’s impossible to fully predict what “Cloud” technology will become in the near, mid, and far future, but it’s likely to continue to evolve beyond its current status. Here’s hoping that we’ll all continue to reap the benefits—while avoiding the pitfalls—of such widespread access to data and information.