‘The Cloud’ finds its way into many conversations nowadays, usually with somebody saying: ‘It’s up in the cloud.’ – followed by an upward flick of their hand. They could be referring to anything from music, photo albums, company folders or perhaps more contentiously, their data.
Cloud computing has had a notable effect on the business world and in our personal lives. We are now able to effectively store items, use applications and even run a business on a machine that could be sitting in another country. On an individual level, we would be familiar with Google Drive and Apple iCloud that allow us to store our favourite memories and songs without the fear of losing them.
Well-known commercial examples of cloud computing and storage would be companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google (G-Suite) and Microsoft (Azure). AWS was the first real mover and has since become the cumulonimbus of cloud services, eclipsing even their biggest rivals Microsoft and Google. In 2006 Amazon launched their commercial web service Elastic Compute Cloud that people could use to rent computers to run their own applications.
The idea of cloud computing dates as far back as the 1960s when JCR Licklider dreamt of the ‘intergalactic computer network’. In this dream, he saw data and programs being accessed from any location using a computer. This would pave the way for grid computing, a much smaller interconnected group of computers, and then later the cloud.
Cloud computing allows larger enterprises to better direct their IT budgets by avoiding maintenance and high upfront hardware costs and it has also been a valuable asset to smaller businesses. Startups are now able to access much-needed tech without needing to buy costly hardware or pay the high licensing fees.
We have only seen the beginning of what The Cloud has to offer and it will be an integral part of an ever-growing globally connected world.