Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, XebiaLabs Blog, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal, OpenStack Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

The Evolution of Cloud Computing

Conceptual origins of cloud computing

Definitions of cloud computing are easy to find, but a single, authoritative definition is hard to come by. Perhaps the best work in this area was done by Böhm, et al. By compiling characteristics of 17 different scholarly and industrial definitions, the authors identified five primary characteristics of cloud computing allowing a definition such as: "Cloud computing is a service that delivers scalable hardware and/or software solutions via the Internet or other network on a pay-per-usage basis." (Emphasis indicates essential definition elements).

Cloud computing can further be broken down into three common types: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. SaaS (Software as a Service) allows users to log into and utilize preprogrammed software that is owned and maintained by the service provider. PaaS (Platform as a Service) gives users tools and languages owned and maintained by the service provider that can be used to build and deploy customized applications. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provides users with storage and processing, allowing users full control over the use of that infrastructure. There are other divisions of cloud computing, but these are the most common.

Conceptual Origins of Cloud Computing
Looking back, it seems that cloud computing was seen as the end goal of many computer pioneers in the 1960s, or, at least, the goal of the early experiments that would eventually become the Internet.

There are three main figures commonly cited as laying the conceptual framework for cloud computing: John McCarthy, JCR Licklider, and Douglas F. Parkhill.

McCarthy first proposed in 1957 that time sharing of computing resources might allow companies to sell excess computation services for maximum utilization of the resource. He even imagined that computation might be organized as a utility.

Licklider, a programmer at the Advanced Research Projects Agency, highlighted some of the promise and challenges in cloud computing in a 1963 memo to those he described as the "Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network." Specifically, he talked about the ability to send a problem to a network of computers that could then pool their resources to solve it, and the need to establish a shared language to allow the computers to talk to one another.

In 1966 Parkhill published "The Challenge of the Computer Utility," which identified many of the challenges facing cloud computing, such as scalability and the need for large bandwidth connections. He also initiated a comparison with electric utilities.

Why We Are in Cloud Computing Time
If cloud computing has been around for so long conceptually, why does it seem like a revolutionary idea at all? Because only now are we in cloud computing time.

Science fiction scholars commonly use the shorthand "steam engine time" to describe the phenomenon that ideas pop up several times but don't catch on for many years. They point out that the Romans knew what steam engines were and could make them, but it wasn't until 1600 years later that the technology came to fruition. The world just wasn't ready for steam engines. The same is true of cloud computing.

The necessary elements that had to be in place before cloud computing could become a reality were the presence of very large datacenters, high-speed Internet connectivity, and the acceptance of cloud computing as a viable model for supplying IT needs.

The presence of very large datacenters is a crucial piece in the foundation of cloud computing. To be able to offer cloud services at a competitive price, suppliers must have datacenters sufficiently large to take advantage of the economies of scale benefits that can reduce costs 80-86% over the medium-sized datacenters that many companies previously utilized. These very large datacenters were manufactured for their own use by many companies that would later become cloud computing providers, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

Almost universal access to high-speed Internet connectivity is crucial to cloud computing. If your data is bottlenecked getting to and from the cloud, it simply can't be a practical solution for your IT needs.

Finally, it is important for potential users to see cloud computing as a viable solution for IT needs. People need to be able to trust that some ethereal company is going to be able to provide for your urgent IT needs on a daily basis. This cultural work was done by many disparate influences, from MMOs to Google, which expanded acceptance of online resources beyond the IT community. Another crucial but oft-neglected part of this cultural work was performed by peer-to-peer computing, which introduced many people to the notion that they could utilize the resources of other computers via the Internet.

Cloud Computing Timeline: Who, When, and Why
There are many good timelines about cloud computing available, and several are available in my resources section, but it's still important to give a basic timeline to show the evolution of cloud computing service offerings:

  • 1999: Salesforce launches its SaaS enterprise applications
  • 2002: Amazon launches Amazon Web Services (AWS), which offer both artificial and human intelligence for problem solving via the Internet
  • 2006: Google launches Google Docs, a free, web-based competitor to Microsoft Office
  • 2006: Amazon launches Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3), sometimes described as the first IaaS
  • 2007: Salesforce launches Force.com, often described as the first PaaS
  • 2008: Google App Engine launched
  • 2009: Microsoft launches Windows Azure

Armbrust, et al. note many motives that drive companies to launch cloud computing services, including:

  • Profit: By taking advantage of cost savings from very large datacenters, companies can underbid competitors and still make significant profit
  • Leverage existing investment: For example, many of the applications in AWS were developed for internal use first, then sold in slightly altered form for additional revenue
  • Defend a franchise: Microsoft launched Windows Azure to help maintain competitiveness of the Windows brand
  • Attack a competitor: Google Docs was launched partly as an attack on Microsoft's profitable Office products
  • Leverage customer relationships: Windows Azure gives existing clients a branded cloud service that plays up perceived reliability of the brand, constantly emphasizing that it is a "rock-solid" cloud service

These are the motives that bring competitors to offer cloud computing services, but what drives companies and individuals to adopt cloud computing, and what barriers still exist to full cloud implementation.

The Cloud Computing Market: Where It's At, and Where It's Going
According to a study by IT trade group CompTIA, up to 80% of businesses use some form of cloud computing, although the degree of use varies widely. IBM's studies show that although only 8% of businesses believe cloud computing currently has a significant impact on their business, it is expected to grow to more than 30% in the next three years.

Cloud computing is often sold on the basis of price, but the primary benefit companies are seeking from cloud computing, according to recent surveys, is flexibility. With the huge swings caused by viral phenomena on the Internet, companies can see demand for their site and services fluctuate wildly in a short period of time. Cloud computing gives companies the flexibility to purchase computing resources on demand. A more conventional benefit of cloud computing's flexibility is the ability to avoid hiring and firing IT personnel for short-term projects.

One of the major obstacles to full adoption of cloud computing services remains security concerns. Although cloud-based security solutions exist, there is still a perception that cloud computing puts data at risk compared to private datacenters and increases the operational impact of denial-of-service attacks.

Despite these concerns, however, all sectors of the cloud computing market are expected to thrive in the near future, with revenue in nearly all sectors doubling within the next 3-5 years.

More Stories By Matthew Candelaria

Dr. Matthew Candelaria is a professional writer with more than five years' experience writing copy in industries such as law, medicine, technology and computer security. For more information about him and his work, visit www.writermc.com.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...