Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Mark Hoover, Stefan Bernbo

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


@CloudExpo Stories
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
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 ...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed ...
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
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...
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great t...
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discussed how a new approach is neces...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.